CAIRO: Hundreds of demonstrators were occupying Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Sunday in a protest against sentences handed down the day before to former president Hosni Mubarak and his security chiefs.
Some of the demonstrators had slept in tents or out in the open overnight in the iconic square, epicentre of an anti-regime revolt that ousted Mubarak in 2011 after three decades of autocratic rule.
“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 Square.
Around 20,000 people had taken to the vast intersection on Saturday after a judge sentenced Mubarak, 84, and his interior minister Habib al-Adly to life for their role in the deaths of more than 800 protesters during last year’s revolt, but acquitted six security chiefs on the same charges.
Corruption charges against Mubarak’s sons, Alaa and Gamal, were dropped because of the expiry of a statute of limitations, and the ousted leader was acquitted in one of the graft cases.
A senior member of Mubarak’s defence team told AFP the former president would appeal.
Mubarak, the only autocrat toppled in the Arab Spring to be put on trial in person, could have been sent to the gallows as demanded by the prosecution.
Both the toppled dictator’s defence team and lawyers representing his victims said the verdict could easily be appealed.
The verdicts prompted outrage inside and outside the courtroom, with protesters staging rallies in Cairo, Alexandria and other Egyptian cities.
“Many people had the feeling while listening to the verdict that we were back in the days of the old regime,” said Feda Essam, a student demonstrator in Tahrir.
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 nearby banner.
Early on Sunday, offices of presidential candidate Ahmad Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister, were attacked in two provincial towns, a security services official said.
Shafiq’s campaign headquarters in Cairo had already been attacked on Monday.
A group of protesters invaded the headquarters of Shafiq’s campaign in Fayyoum south of Cairo before setting fire to the building, the security official said.
Premises in Hurghada on the Red Sea were pillaged and the windows smashed.