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Egypt court orders Mubarak freed

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Hosni Mubarak has appeared frail in some of his court appearancesAn Egyptian court has ordered the release on bail of former President Hosni Mubarak in a corruption case.

Reports from Cairo suggest he may be freed from prison on Thursday, but the prosecution may still appeal.

The 85-year-old is also being retried on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters during the uprising that forced him from power in 2011.

He was sentenced to life in jail last year, but a retrial was later ordered after his appeal was upheld.

That retrial opened in May but Mr Mubarak has now served the maximum amount of pre-trial detention permitted in the case.

State of emergency

On Wednesday, the court in the capital ordered the release of Mr Mubarak, said his lawyer and judicial sources.

Asked when Mr Mubarak could actually leave the prison, his defence lawyer Fareed El-Deeb told Reuters: "Maybe tomorrow."

The ruling came during a hearing on charges that the former president had accepted gifts from state-run publisher al-Ahram.

It is unclear whether he could leave the prison immediately, as in the past prosecutors have brought new charges to keep the ailing ex-leader in detention.

Analysts say Mr Mubarak's release - if it happens - would be seen by many as a sign the military is rolling back the changes that flowed from the 2011 uprising.

Egypt is under a state of emergency amid the bloodshed which has accompanied the interim government's crackdown on Islamists opposed to the army's ousting of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on 3 July.

Mediation offer

European Union foreign ministers are currently meeting to determine a response to the clampdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Some EU leaders have called for the 28-member bloc's 5bn-euro ($6.7bn; £4.3bn) aid package to Egypt to be cut after more than 900 people were killed in clashes last week.

The violence erupted as security forces cleared two sit-ins in Cairo by people demanding the reinstatement of Mr Morsi.

But sources say the EU ministers are likely to consider the military and security support provided by several European nations, and whether there might be a formal suspension of this across the bloc, reports the BBC's Matthew Price in Brussels.

The EU's foreign policy chief, Baroness Catherine Ashton, has offered to mediate a political solution to the crisis and is working on "confidence building measures" between the interim government and Brotherhood.

In Washington, senior officials discussed on Tuesday whether to reduce the $1.3bn in military aid that the US gives Egypt every year. The meeting reportedly produced no imminent changes to US policy.

source: BBC