EGYPT. Deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison on Saturday for ordering the killing of protesters during the uprising that swept him from power last year.
Presiding judge Ahmed Refaat also sentenced his former interior minister, Habib el-Adli, to life in prison on the same charge.
Mubarak was wheeled into court on a hospital gurney to hear the verdict in his trial on charges of graft and complicity in the killings of protesters during the uprising that ended his 30-year rule.
State media reported that other defendants including his two sons, who are on trial with Mubarak, arrived at the court earlier.
State television showed Mubarak arriving at the court on the outskirts of Cairo in a helicopter from the military-run hospital where he has been held in custody.
He was transferred to a white ambulance on a stretcher, wearing sunglasses. He had his arms behind his head. A sheet covered the lower half of his body.
Piles of bound court papers were stacked next to the judges' bench, the television footage showed.
"Day of the verdict for the pharaoh," wrote the Al-Watan newspaper in a front-page headline, a reference to Mubarak who was often called a modern version of Egypt's ancient rulers.
Hundreds of police with riot shields and batons surrounded the police academy where the 10-month trial has been held.
"Enough talk, we want execution," protesters chanted outside.
Few Egyptians expected that Mubarak will go to the gallows, even if some think that is what he deserves. Protesters have often hung his effigy from lamp posts since he fell on Feb. 11, 2011.
"I want nothing less than the death penalty for Mubarak. Anything less and we will not be silent and the revolution will break out again," said Hanafi el-Sayed, whose 27-year-old son was killed in the first days of the uprising that erupted on Jan. 25, 2011. He had travelled from Alexandria for the trial.
Mubarak, who also faced corruption charges, was on trial with his two sons Alaa and Gamal, his former interior minister and six other senior officers. His co-defendants have been held in a Cairo jail.
It is the first time an Arab leader ousted by his people has been placed before a regular court. Mubarak's trial had Arabs glued to the television last year and sent a message to other autocrats battling rebellions what fate might await them.
"Mubarak's trial has the potential to set a meaningful regional precedent for accountability for human rights abuses and for upholding international fair trial standards," Human Rights Watch wrote in a report before the session.
But the ruling could not come at a more sensitive time for Egypt, right in the middle of a fraught presidential election that pits a figure from the Muslim Brotherhood, banned under Mubarak, against the deposed leader's last prime minister.
"It cannot be that, after 15 months of the revolution and the crimes committed, Mubarak is not punished. This would destroy any trust in the judiciary," said engineer Saad Ali, 35.