CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt began demolishing on Sunday the building that had housed the headquarters of former President Hosni Mubarak’s political party, a symbol of decades of iron-fisted rule.
The burnt-out National Democratic Party (NDP) building, a concrete tower block that looms over the River Nile in Cairo, was gutted during the uprising against Mubarak’s rule in 2011.
Successive governments had discussed plans to knock down the building since the NDP was dissolved in April 2011.
Some activists who took part in protests have said the headquarters should be preserved as a monument to the uprising.
“The Egyptian people paid the biggest price for the corruption at that time,” said Ahmed Shahin, an acting student who passed by the site.
Rageb Hafiz, one of the contractors working on the demolition project, said it would take about three months to complete.
Critics accuse Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013, of returning repression to the country, an allegation he denies.
While Egyptian courts have been gradually absolving Mubarak-era figures, they have been handing down lengthy sentences to liberal and Islamist activists in cases ranging from political protests to acts of violence.
The NDP had dominated Egyptian politics since it was founded by Mubarak’s predecessor, Anwar Sadat, in 1978.
In May, an Egyptian court sentenced Mubarak and his two sons to three years in jail without parole in the retrial of a corruption case, although the trio is unlikely to go to jail again.
Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa have already spent at least three years each in prison for other cases, so will probably not have to serve out the sentence.
Mubarak’s treatment by the courts since being toppled from the presidency has been perceived by his opponents as too lenient and raised doubts about Egypt’s transition toward democracy.
Charges against him of conspiring to kill protesters during the uprising, centered around Cairo’s Tahrir Square, were dropped.
Writing by Michael Georgy; editing by Susan Thomas