Officials say an Egyptian court has ordered the release of ex-President Hosni Mubarak, following a hearing on charges against him of accepting gifts from a state-owned newspaper, the last case that has kept the ailing leader in detention.
Egypt's prosecutor will not appeal against a court ruling ordering the release of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from jail, the prosecutor overseeing the case said on Wednesday.
"The decision to release Mubarak issued today … is final and the prosecution cannot appeal against it," Judge Ahmed el-Bahrawi said.
The possibility of Mubarak going free is likely to fuel the unrest already roiling the country after the autocratic leader's successor, Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, was removed in a military coup last month.
Top prison official Mostafa Baz told Egypt's private CBC TV station that his offices will ask the prosecutors Thursday if Mubarak is wanted in other cases. If not, he would be set free.
The hearing was held in Tora prison, where Mubarak, 85, has been held for most of his detention since April 2011. Officials cited security concerns as the reason for holding it in the sprawling, tightly secured facility.
Mubarak is now on trial for the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising against him and other charges.
He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison last year for failing to stop the killing of some 900 protesters in Egypt's 2011 uprising. His sentence was overturned on appeal and he is now being retried, along with his security chief and six top police commanders. His trial resumes later this month.
He is facing a number of other corruption charges, but no other trial dates have been set.
The court officials spoke anonymously because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
Rights lawyer and judicial expert Nasser Amin said procedurally Mubarak should have been released since his sentence was overturned, but that the political circumstances may delay letting him go.
"His release will cause chaos," he said. "It will be used by Islamists as proof of the return of the old regime."
Key Islamist figures detained
Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities have continued their crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, arresting the group's supreme leader and other senior figures and sending them to trial.
On Wednesday, cleric Safwat Hegazy, a fiery preacher from the ultraconservative Salafi movement and a top Brotherhood ally, was captured at a checkpoint near the Siwa Oasis in eastern Egypt and close to the border with Libya, according to the state-run MENA news agency. The cleric is wanted on charges of instigating violence.
According to the website of the state-run Al-Ahram daily, Hegazy had shaved off most of his beard, dyed his hair and covered his face with a niqab, a head-to-toe woman's dress that leaves only a slit for the eyes uncovered.
But the head of local security where Hegazy was arrested denied he was disguised as a woman, saying the cleric had dramatically changed his looks, shaving his trademark white beard, dying it black and keeping only a black goatee, and dressing as a local Bedouin. Maj. Gen. Enani Hamouda was speaking to the privately owned Al-Hayat TV.
Egyptian state TV aired a photo showing him sitting next to army soldiers, clean-shaven and dressed in a white robe, without his prescription glasses and flashing a smile.
MENA said Hegazy, who joined ranks with the Muslim Brotherhood in campaigning for Morsi's presidential bid, showed no resistance during his arrest and was flown to a detention centre in Cairo.
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Hegazy was a key speaker at the main pro-Morsi sit-in that was dispersed by security troops last week in Cairo's Nasr City suburb. He told protesters to hold their ground and promised to deal blows to the military. He is wanted on charges of instigating deadly clashes last month with security forces outside a Republican Guard building that killed 54 people, most of them Morsi supporters.
Also, an Egyptian security official said Mourad Ali, a spokesman for the Brotherhood's political party, was detained at Cairo airport while trying to catch a flight to Italy. The official said Ali's name was on the watch list in the airport for his involvement in the latest violence in Egypt. The official didn't elaborate.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
On Tuesday authorities detained the Brotherhood's supreme leader and spiritual guide, Mohammed Badie, dealing a serious blow to an embattled movement now struggling to keep up its protest campaign against the military's overthrow of Morsi and subsequent deadly assaults on pro-Morsi sit-ins.
Morsi and his top aides have been held incommunicado at unknown locations since the July 3 military coup. The ouster of Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, came after four days of mass protests in Cairo and elsewhere demanding he step down for abusing his power.
The Brotherhood arrests appear aimed at crippling the group and weakening its ability to continue putting pressure on the government.
Over the past three days, the group's campaign of near-daily protests has petered out, with scattered demonstrations in Cairo and elsewhere attracting mere hundreds, or even dozens, of protesters.
On Tuesday, several hundred Morsi supporters staged protests in Helwan, an industrial suburb south of Cairo, and in Ein Shams, a residential district on the opposite end of the city, shortly before the 11-hour curfew went into effect at 7 p.m. They also held a similar rally in the southern suburb of Maadi.
With files from Reuters
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