Created on Sunday, 03 June 2012 10:25
Written by AFP
Hundreds of Egyptians occupied Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Sunday after a night of rage against what they feel are lenient sentences given to ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak and his security chiefs.Uprising
A judge sentenced Mubarak, 84, and his interior minister Habib al-Adly to life in prison on Saturday for involvement in the killing of protesters during the uprising that ousted them from power last year.
But many wanted death for the deposed leader.
They saw the sentence and the acquittal of senior police officers as proof that the old regime still wields influence and feared Mubarak could now be acquitted on appeal.
Some demanded that the country’s presidential election be cancelled.
Mubarak, the only autocrat toppled in the Arab Spring to be put in the dock, could have been sent to the gallows as demanded by the prosecution. He was also cleared of graft charges.
Six police chiefs were acquitted, and Mubarak’s sons Alaa and Gamal had corruption charges against them dropped on a technicality, prompting protesters to take to the streets in Cairo, Alexandria and other Egyptian cities.
Both the toppled dictator’s defense team and lawyers representing his victims said the life sentence verdict could easily be appealed, triggering fears among protesters that he could be found innocent.
Around 20,000 people took to Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square on Saturday after the verdicts were issued.
Some of the demonstrators slept in tents or out in the open overnight on the vast intersection, epicenter of the 18-day revolt that forced Mubarak to resign on February 11 last year.
“We intend to stay today and possibly tomorrow. We expect a lot more people to come during the day,” said Omar Abdelkader, a young protester in Tahrir on Sunday.
“Many people had the feeling while listening to the verdict that we were back in the days of the old regime,” said student Feda Essam, another protester in the square.
The demonstrators erected a memorial depicting a miniature cemetery made of gravestones and sand in tribute to the “martyrs” of the revolution.
“Martyrs, we will not abandon you to the conspiracies of the old regime. In the name of your blood, there will be a new revolution,” said a banner.
The long-awaited Mubarak verdict deepened fear among many pro-democracy campaigners that recent developments are reversing Egypt’s emergence from decades of autocratic rule.
Many of the young liberal and left-wing revolutionaries who began the uprising were dismayed when their own candidates lost the first round of the presidential election last month.
The vote is seen as the last step in a transition from military rule to civilian government.
A run-off on June 16 and 17 will pit Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, who holds Mubarak as a role model, against the candidate of the socially conservative Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Mursi.
Dozens of young men ransacked Shafiq’s campaign office in Fayoum south of Cairo overnight, the second such attack in recent days, state news website al-Ahram reported.
Footage posted on Al-Ahram’s website showed youths destroying and burning Shafiq’s pictures and banners and others chanting: “Fayoum says Ahmed Shafiq is feloul,” an Arabic word used to refer to remnants of the Mubarak era.
Leftist Hamdeen Sabahy, who failed to progress to the election run-off, joined thousands of protesters in Tahrir late on Saturday. The Brotherhood’s Mursi also toured the square.
“We are in disbelief that either Shafiq or Mursi could be president,” said Ahmed Abdulla, 21, one of hundreds of hard-core football fans who have taken part in sporadic street protests since Mubarak was toppled.
Mursi, who has been struggling to rally the support of candidates, defeated in the first-round vote, met with Sabahy and another defeated candidate, Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, late on Saturday for a closed-door meeting, according to people who attended the gathering.
“The situation now is deadlocked but one scenario would be to stop the second round from happening,” said a political activist who witnessed the meeting.
“We plan to call for marches on Monday, Wednesday and a big million-man march on Friday,” the activist said.