The possibility of Mubarak’s release came in the midst of the post-coup crackdown that has left more than 1,000 people dead and hundreds in detention.
The pro-Islamist camp was waning as its leadership and Morsi himself were arrested. Other high-level officials have been arrested. Despite the crackdown, the pro-Morsi groups vowed to hold massive rallies on Friday.
On the streets of Cairo, interviews about Mubarak highlighted the deep polarization in Egypt, which doesn’t always clearly fall into pro-Morsi or pro-military camps.
“This is an absurd charade by the judiciary, the army, and the police in order to reinstate Mubarak and his corrupt regime and to rob the people of their revolution,” said Ibrahim Mohammed.
Another Cairo resident, Ahmad Kamal, said it was time Mubarak was set free.
“He should have been released a long time ago. God forgive them for what they have done and the judiciary has ordered this so that should be enough. I have complete faith in the Egyptian judiciary,” Kamal said.
Since his overthrow in February 2011, Mubarak has been on a roller coaster ride through the courts during which he has been convicted, only for another court to overturn the ruling, grant him a retrial and order him released. Still, he was kept behind bars pending his retrial and on other charges.
For his first trial, on charges of corruption and conspiracy in the deadly shooting of nearly 900 protesters during the uprising against him, he was on a gurney behind prison cage bars and denied the charges. The first Arab leader to face trial by his own people, Mubarak was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
In January, a court overturned his life sentence on the grounds that the prosecution lacked concrete evidence and failed to prove the protesters were killed by the police. His trial on charges of alleged complicity in the killing of protesters resumes Aug. 25.