Ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family will pay back around $3 million for gifts they received from a state newspaper while he was still in office, after a settlement agreement announced by prosecutors Wednesday.
The settlement resolves a side case that opened against the 84-year-old Mubarak just as he was granted a retrial last week on charges of a role in killing protesters in the 2011 uprising that led to his downfall.
Last summer, Mubarak was convicted and sentence to life in prison for failing to stop the killings. But a court last week threw out the conviction because of shoddy procedures.
Mubarak, currently held in a military hospital, is not expected to walk free pending his new trial. Lawyers say once a trial date is set, the court can decide whether to free him during the procedures, but that is seen as unlikely considering the highly charged political nature of the charges.
Mubarak was the first Arab leader who stepped down in the wave of protests across the region to face trial, appear in a defendant’s cage and be slapped with a life sentence. He is also the first Arab leader to be tried by his own people.
The trial of Mubarak for his role in the death of nearly 900 protesters during the 18-day uprising against him has left many of the former leader’s detractors unsatisfied because they sought to have him tried for his nearly 30 years of autocratic rule.
They charge that in his reign, Mubarak has amassed extensive wealth in the forms of properties, palaces, land plots and bank accounts in local and foreign currencies. Switzerland has frozen some Mubarak assets, but his real wealth has remained a mystery.
The cases of the gifts emerged just days before the appeal court decision. The gifts — including watches, bags and jewelry — were a traditional show of loyalty by the Al-Ahram daily. The received gifts by the Mubarak family were only between 2006 and 2011.
Mubarak was questioned about the gifts on Saturday, and ordered put under detention for 15 days pending further interrogations.
Attorney general Mustafa Hussein said Wednesday he accepted an offer from Mubarak’s lawyer to settle the case over the gifts. The money — 18 million Egyptian pounds, the equivalent of just under $3 million — would go back to Al-Ahram.
Some 23 of 26 other officials who received gifts from the same newspaper have also settled, Hussein said.