The highest appeals court in Egypt rejected a motion by former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons to overturn their corruption convictions related to his nearly 30-year rule.
Egypt’s Court of Cessation denied the Mubaraks’ appeals on Saturday.
Mubarak, 90, Gamal, and his third son Alaa were sentenced in 2014 to three years’ imprisonment each for using funds originally intended for the maintenance of presidential palaces to build and upgrade private residences.
The sons were released in 2015 and Mubarak was freed last year. Alaa and Gamal are currently on trial for insider trading.
The court’s rejection of their appeal – and Gamal’s subsequent ineligibility to run for office – came after recent comments by the chief editor of state-run Al-Akhbar publications, Yasser Rizq, suggesting frequent public appearances by the younger Mubarak could signal a future presidential run.
“His real crime is insulting the dignity of the Egyptian people,” Rizq said, alluding to Gamal’s one-time intention to succeed his father.
Gamal wielded vast influence in Egypt during the final years of Mubarak’s rule.
Rizq first warned Gamal Mubarak against harbouring presidential ambitions in an article published in May. He repeated the warning in a television interview earlier this week.
Rizq said it was not improbable that Gamal would strike a political deal with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to secure the group’s return to politics – in exchange for its support in a presidential bid in 2022, when President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s second term ends.
Real challenge to Sisi?
Sisi led the military’s 2013 overthrow of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Since then Sisi’s government has overseen a massive crackdown on Morsi’s supporters, jailing thousands along with secular activists behind the 2011 uprising that overthrew Mubarak.
Egypt’s constitution prohibits Sisi from running for a third term in office, but his supporters have raised the spectre of amending the 2014 charter to allow him to do so, or extend the duration of his term.
Sisi won a second, four-year term in office this year in an election in which his only opponent was a little-known politician viewed as among his staunchest supporters.
Riza’s attack on Gamal Mubarak mirrors past campaigns by the pro-government media against potential challengers to Sisi, which have included personal attacks and unsubstantiated accusations.
The suggestion that Gamal might strike a deal with the Brotherhood to rise to power carries a thinly veiled threat given the country’s political climate, where suspicion of links to the group has provided authorities with grounds to imprison critics, including some with established secular credentials.