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Egypt court orders release of former ruler Mubarak as crisis deepens

7:53 AM, Aug 21, 2013   |    comments
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Egypt's former hardline President Hosni Mubarak was ordered released from prison on Wednesday, a move that could potentially stir further unrest in the country riven by political turmoil and violence.

A court reviewed a petition for the former leader's release after corruption charges against him were thrown out on Monday. The prosecution still has a right to appeal.

However, the authoritarian ex-ruler still faces other court cases, including a retrial on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising in which he was eventually toppled.

At 85, Mubarak may have no political future, but his release could stir emotions and raise questions about whether the popular uprising that ended his 30-year rule is leading to a new form of military government, Reuters reported.

He is the second deposed ruler of Egypt to be behind bars.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, who was democratically elected in 2012 following the collapse of Mubarak's regime, was ousted by the military on July 3.

Egypt remains deeply politically divided. Morsi's removal sparked mass sit-in protest camps that were later cleared by security forces, backed by bulldozers - leading to violent clashes and the deaths of more than 800 civilians and 100 police and soldiers.

Although weakened by the death or arrest of some of its key leaders, Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has vowed to bring down the army-backed interim government and has branded his ouster a "coup."

On Tuesday, authorities arrested the group's leader, Mohamed Badie - but the group immediately appointed a temporary replacement - 69-year-old doctor Mahmoud Ezzat - who has has been described as the Brotherhood's 'iron man'.

On Monday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called for an end to the violence, reiterating an earlier call from President Obama.

"As President Obama said last week, the violence must end," Hagel said, adding that the United States' role in Egypt's future is limited. "Our ability to influence the outcome in Egypt is limited."

Nevertheless, no decision has been made on withholding U.S. aid to Egypt.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said a "review is ongoing" of U.S. aid, in "light of actions taken by the interim Egyptian government."

NBC News

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