A judge sentenced former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to life in prison on Saturday after convicting him of involvement in the murder of protesters during the uprising that ousted him last year.
Also given a life term for the killings was 84-year-old former strongman’s interior minister Habib al-Adly, while six former police commanders were acquitted.
Corruption charges against Mubarak’s sons, Alaa and Gamal, were dropped due to the expiry of a statute of limitations, as the former president was acquitted in one of the graft cases.
Scuffles erupted soon after the verdicts were delivered and chants of “Void, void” and “The people want the judiciary purged” could be heard, as furious lawyers told AFP they feared Mubarak would be found innocent on appeal.
Mubarak, who wore dark sunglasses and a beige track-suit, had his arms folded and showed no emotion inside his caged dock, however, as Chief Judge Ahmed Refaat read out the verdict.
His two sons, Alaa and Gamal, looking tired with dark circles under their eyes, appeared close to tears on hearing the verdict.
Outside the courtroom, clashes broke following the sentencing, forcing police to use stun grenades to control the crowds.
Mubarak, the only autocrat toppled in the Arab Spring to be tried, Adly and the six others were facing charges over their involvement in ordering the deaths of some of the estimated 850 people killed.
The former strongman, his sons Alaa and Gamal and business associate Hussein Salem, who fled to Spain, were also on trial over an alleged bribe.
And the former president was also accused of selling natural gas to Israel at lower than market prices.
A security official said 5,000 policemen and 2,000 soldiers were deployed to secure the court, at the Police Academy on Cairo’s outskirts, to which the ailing Mubarak was helicoptered in from a military hospital
Egypt has been ruled by the military since Mubarak was forced to resign on February 11 last year, after 18 days of nationwide protests.
Mubarak has been detained at a hospital in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh since his arrest last year, after the military appeared to bow to protester demands that he and former regime officials be put on trial.
But the military insists the prosecution’s investigations and the charges eventually filed were independent judicial decisions.
However, critics say the investigations were hasty and sloppy, resulting in a trial based on patchwork evidence that may see Mubarak acquitted.
During the trial, Mubarak was wheeled into the lecture hall that serves as a courtroom on a stretcher. He reportedly suffers from a heart condition, but the health ministry has denied his lawyer’s claim that he has cancer.
Along with Adly, Mubarak’s co-defendants include six former police commanders.
They have all denied that they ordered police to shoot protesters or use deadly force during the uprising, in which demonstrators torched police stations across the country.
The verdict comes just two weeks before a run-off in presidential elections that will pit Mubarak’s former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi in a highly polarising race.
It is the first openly contested presidential election in any of the Arab countries swept by regional protests and uprisings that challenged decades of autocratic rule.
But the revolt also led to a deteriorating economy and increased lawlessness in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, that has helped Shafiq, a symbol of Mubarak’s regime, win a surprising amount of support.