Bad move, guys. Mubarak is about as popular as rat poison and I imagine many Egyptians who otherwise might support the government against the Muslim Brotherhood will not take kindly to his release.
Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president overthrown in an uprising in 2011, will be released from jail soon after a prosecutor cleared him in a corruption case, his lawyer and a judicial source said on Monday.
Mubarak, 85, was arrested after he was ousted. In scenes that mesmerized Arabs, the former leader appeared in a court-room cage during his trial on charges that ranged from corruption to complicity in the murder of protesters.
More than a year on, the only legal grounds for Mubarak's continued detention rest on another corruption case which his lawyer, Fareed el-Deeb, said would be settled swiftly.
"All we have left is a simple administrative procedure that should take no more than 48 hours. He should be freed by the end of the week," Deeb told Reuters.
Without confirming that Mubarak would be freed, a judicial source said the former leader would spend another two weeks behind bars before judicial authorities made a final decision in the outstanding case against him.
Mubarak, along with his interior minister, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison last year for failing to stop the killing of protesters in the revolt that swept him from power.
He still faces a retrial in that case after appeals from the prosecution and defense, but this would not necessarily require him to stay in jail. Mubarak did not appear at a hearing in the case on Saturday. He was also absent from Monday's proceedings.
Can Mubarak escape justice? With the military pulling the strings behind the scenes, it is doubtful the former dictator will see the inside of a jail cell. The young, especially, will not like the idea of letting Mubarak off the hook. They drove the initial protests that topped him and were the most vocal about trying him for the 800 deaths that resulted from the Arab Spring protests.
If the young turn from the government, that would only complicate the situation and might even generate some sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood. Needless to say, Mubarak is better off in prison for everyone concerned.