An Egyptian court ordered the release of former President Hosni Mubarak
on Wednesday, his lawyer told Reuters, meaning he could leave prison later in the day as there is no longer any legal grounds for his detention. Mubarak's lawyer confirmed the report
Mubarak, 85, is being retried on charges of ordering the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that led to his downfall. However, he has already served out the maximum amount of pretrial detention permitted in that case.
Leaving the Cairo prison where the court convened, the former president's lawyerm, Fareed El-Deeb, said: "The court decided to release him." Asked when, he said: "Maybe tomorrow".
Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison last year for failing to prevent the killing of demonstrators. But a court accepted his appeal earlier this year and ordered a retrial.
A court convened in a Cairo jail on Wednesday to consider a petition for the release of Mubarak, just seven weeks after the army toppled his elected successor Mohamed Morsi.
At least 900 people, including 100 soldiers and police, have been killed in a crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood in the past week, the bloodiest civil unrest in Egypt's modern history.
The United States and the European Union are both reviewing aid to Egypt
in light of the bloodshed, but Saudi Arabia, a foe of the Brotherhood, has promised to make up any shortfall.
Security sources said the court had met at Tora prison, where Mubarak is being held, to review a legal petition demanding freedom for the man who ruled for 30 years until he was overthrown as uprisings swept the Arab world in 2011.
Mubarak is still being retried on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters during the revolt against him, but he has already served the maximum pre-trial detention in that case.
The court could remove the last legal ground for his imprisonment in connection with a corruption case, following a similar decision in another corruption case on Monday.
Although at 85 Mubarak probably has no political future, his release would be seen by many in the Arab world as rehabilitation of an old order of six decades of rule by military men - and even a reversal of the 2011 pro-democracy uprising that brought him down.
The generals ousted Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected leader, on July 3, saying they were responding to the will of the people following vast demonstrations demanding his removal.
They have installed an interim administration to oversee a roadmap they say will lead Egypt back to democracy.
The authorities now portray their quarrel with the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's best-organised political force, as a fight against terrorism and are jailing its leaders, including its "general guide", Mohamed Badie, detained in Cairo on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which along with Kuwait have promised Egypt $12 billion in aid since Morsi's overthrow, have frowned on Mubarak's detention all along. Arab diplomats said the conservative Gulf states had lobbied for the release of a man they once valued as a strong regional ally.
Mubarak's trial, when he appeared in a courtroom cage, and his jailing also affronted some Egyptian officers. One colonel, who asked not to be identified, said the treatment of the former supreme military commander had "tarnished the army's image".
The United States, a close ally of Egypt since it signed a peace treaty with Israel
in 1979, said on Tuesday that the crackdown on protesters could influence U.S. aid. It denied reports it had already suspended assistance.
At issue is the future of about $1.23 million in U.S. military assistance and $241 million in economic aid to Egypt. Most of the military aid is spent buying and maintaining American weapons.
EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss how the 28-nation bloc might use its economic power to promote an end to Egypt's conflict, in which it has sought to mediate.
They are likely to tread carefully, mixing expressions of concern over bloodshed, with limited, if any, changes in a 5 billion euro ($6.7 billion) aid package promised to Egypt last year, diplomats in Brussels said.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop