10 21 2014
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An Egyptian court has ordered the release of deposed leader Hosni Mubarak in a corruption case, state-run media outlet Al-Ahram reported Wednesday.

Egypt's General Prosecutor has said he will not appeal to keep Mubarak in custody, state media reported, clearing the way for him to be released. However, it is not clear how soon this could come.

State-run TV channel Al-Masriya cited a lawyer for Mubarak as saying he may be released as soon as Thursday.

Mubarak still faces a retrial for the most serious charge against him, that of inciting violence against protesters during the 2011 uprising that brought about his removal from office. He could face the death penalty if found guilty on that count.

There are conflicting reports about the status of the corruption case against him.

The court ordered Mubarak's release because he has been held past the maximum time he can be detained before being convicted.

The only condition for his release is that he must remain in the country.

The 85-year-old has been held in detention since he was convicted last year on charges that he was complicit in the protesters' killings and sentenced to life in prison. He appealed and a retrial was granted early this year.

Mubarak's impending release comes at a time of turmoil in Egypt, where an interim military government has been in charge since Mubarak's successor, Mohamed Morsy of the Muslim Brotherhood, was ousted as president last month.

Over the past week, about 900 people -- security personnel as well as citizens -- have been killed. Deaths occurred when the military used force to clear two pro-Morsy sit-in sites in Cairo on Wednesday last week and violence raged after pro-Morsy supporters staged demonstrations Friday.

Mubarak ruled Egypt, the most populous Arab country, for three decades until demonstrators opposing his rule forced his ouster in 2011 as part of the Arab Spring revolutions across Africa and the Middle East.

The ousted autocratic leader's health has been a bone of contention during his lengthy trial last year and incarceration. He suffered a heart attack after relinquishing power and argued that he was physically unfit to stand trial.

He spent months of his detention in a military hospital but was ordered back to prison in April.

'Deeply divided'

Eric Trager, with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told CNN that Mubarak's release would likely prompt mixed reactions among Egyptians.

"For many Egyptians, Mubarak's release will be met with a shrug. Some will cheer it because obviously a regime cannot last for 30 years without some societal support," he said. "Others will certainly take to the streets in response to it."

But, he added, "the revolutionary youths who will certainly be outraged by this will probably also worry about finding themselves in the streets alongside the Muslim Brotherhood."

According to Trager, many Egyptians now believe -- thanks to a persistent state media campaign since Morsy was ousted -- that the Muslim Brotherhood was responsible for the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising, not the Mubarak regime.

As for the timing of the court's ruling, some Egyptians may see a conspiracy behind it in which the old regime seeks to reassert power following Morsy's ouster, Trager said.

"Others, who see this as a normal, understandable process in which a leader who they now associate with a better time in Egypt is now being released, will give a different response," he said.

"I expect that Egyptians will be divided on this as they have been deeply divided in every point of the last two-and-a-half years."

Tamarod, the anti-Morsy protest movement which called for the mass rallies that led to his ouster, said it was not surprised by the ruling on Mubarak's release.

In a statement on its official website, the group blamed Morsy's administration for failing to do enough to push Mubarak's trial forward.

The group called for a retrial of the former president, with new evidence before the court, and for Morsy to be put on trial as well.

The military, which has governed Egypt since forcing Morsy out of office, continues to hold him in detention and controls the judiciary.

CNN's Karl Penhaul reported from Cairo and Laura Smith-Spark wrote and reported in London. CNN's Slma Shelbayah, Tommy Evans and Saad Abedine, and journalist Sarah Sirgany contributed to this report.

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