Mrs. Mubarak Sets Path of Contrition
The release of the former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s wife after she agreed to hand over disputed assets set the stage for other detained former high-level officials—potentially including the deposed president—to try to seek their own release or even amnesty from prosecution.
Suzanne Mubarak, 70 years old, agreed Monday to hand over about $4 million in assets to the Ministry of Finance, according to the head of the Illicit Gains Authority.
The authority, which falls under the Ministry of Justice, had taken Mrs. Mubarak into custody for questioning Friday on suspicion that she had acquired some of her assets illegally.
Mrs. Mubarak’s release angered protest leaders whose activism helped oust her husband in February. Protesters have spent the past three months agitating for the prosecution of Mr. Mubarak along with top officials of his regime.
Aggravating protesters’ anger, an Egyptian newspaper reported Tuesday that Mr. Mubarak is preparing to deliver a speech to the nation to apologize for his crimes and to ask for forgiveness.
The speech will deflect accusations that the president ordered the use of deadly force against protesters who sought his removal, blaming “bad information” from his advisers, according to al Shorouq newspaper.
“It’s not acceptable if she took the money of people of Egypt for 30 years and she comes now and says ‘forgive me, I’ll return the money back to you,’ ” said Walid Rashid, a spokesman for the 6th of April Youth Movement, a pro-democracy organization that was instrumental in Egypt’s revolution.
“It’s the same thing that Mubarak is trying to do right now,” he said.
While the precise sum of Mr. Mubarak’s fortune isn’t known, many Egyptians believe it to be in the tens of billions of dollars.
Mrs. Mubarak’s return of some controversial assets and her subsequent release won’t block an investigation by the General Prosecutor’s Office—a separate and independent government entity, a spokesman for the office told MENA, the Egyptian state news agency. Mr. and Mrs. Mubarak haven’t been formally charged in either of the investigations.
Prosecutors are questioning dozens of businessmen and high-level politicians on suspicion that they benefited financially from their proximity to Egypt’s former regime. The former minister of interior and minister of tourism were sentenced earlier this month to 12 and 15 years in jail, respectively, on corruption charges.
“I think this could allow other businessmen to try to get a similar deal from the government,” said Alia Mamdouh, a researcher for CI Capital, an Egyptian investment bank. “It could also help the former president and his sons.”
Mr. Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, have been detained by the General Prosecutor’s Office. The office will continue its investigations into Mrs. Mubarak’s finances, the office’s spokesman told the state news agency.
Mr. Mubarak, 83, has remained in police custody in a hospital in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El Sheikh since he was detained in mid-April.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Mubarak reportedly suffered heart problems immediately after they were detained and questioned by law-enforcement officials.