Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who ruled his country with an iron first for three decades, was sentenced Saturday to life in prison.
Mubarak, 84, frowned when the verdict was announced, his eyes hidden behind sunglasses as he lay on a gurney.
He then suffered what Egyptian television deemed “a health crisis” — possibly a heart attack — while being flown from a military hospital to a Cairo prison. It was not immediately clear where he was being treated.
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The verdict culminates 16 months of upheaval for Egypt, which captured the world’s attention with massive protests in Tahir Square, the iconic heart of the movement.
Mubarak, a former military commander, assumed power in 1981 after the assassination of President Anwar El Sadat. He is now the second Arab leader convicted since a wave of uprisings swung through the region a year ago.
Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was convicted in absentia last year. Other despots, like Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, were removed by violence and even killed.
Mubarak, who resigned in February 2011, was found guilty of failing to stop the killing of more than 900 protestors during the Arab Spring.
But the court handed down a mixed verdict, acquitting the deposed president and his sons — heir apparent Gamal and businessman Alaa — of corruption charges.
Before handing down the sentences, Judge Ahmed Rifaat denounced Mubarak’s reign, deeming it “30 years of darkness” and “a darkened nightmare” that ended only when Egyptians rose up to protest.
“They peacefully demanded democracy from rulers who held a tight grip on power,” the judge said about last year’s uprisings.
The corruption acquittals sparked anger in the courtroom, and lawyers for the victims’ families began to denounce the judge.
“The people want to cleanse the judiciary,” they chanted. A few raised banners that read: “God’s verdict is execution.”
Thousands of riot police swarmed the square outside the courtroom and clashed with protestors. Later, hundreds of people swarmed Tahir Square for a gathering that was part protest, part celebration.