CAIRO – By order of the judge, the Egyptian police held Saturday the sons of the former president Hosni Mubarak, along with three others in connection with insider trading, for which the five are put on trial, according to security officials.
They said the arrests were ordered by judge Ahmed Aboul-Fetouh before he adjourned the hearings of the case until October 20. The Mubarak sons – wealthy businessman Alaa and Mubarak's one-time heir apparent Gamal – were brought to a prison south of Cairo after the hearing, according to the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to inform media .
The detention of the two brothers came as a surprise, given that the process went without incident. It was not immediately clear whether their detention had anything to do with a recent warning to Gamal Mubarak by a newspaper editor near the government to abandon political ambitions.
The two sons and their father were sentenced to three years in prison after their condemnation of misappropriated funds reserved for the restoration and maintenance of presidential palaces, and used the money to improve their private residence. The sons were released in 2015 for the time they served, while Mubarak walked around freely last year. The trio paid the state back the money they had darkened.
The three were held for the first time in April 2011, two months after a popular uprising forced Mubarak to take power after almost 30 years. After a long trial, Mubarak was acquitted of killing protesters during the 18-day uprising against his autocratic rule.
The continued trading of inside information is about buying by the two brothers a large number of shares in a local Egyptian bank that they claimed would be the target of a takeover by an investor from the Arabian Gulf, a movement that was almost certainly dramatic rise in share prices.
One of the five ordered detainees on Saturday is investment banker Hassan Heikal, the son of Mohamed Heikal, a confidant of the Egyptian late nationalist leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser and the author of a series of books that provide insider reports on the wars in Egypt and to establish peace with Israel. He died in 2016.
Preventing Gamal from succeeding his father was one of the main motives for the 2011 uprising and the subsequent support of the army for the uprising. In the years that followed, most pillars of the Mubarak regime were tried for corruption or power missions, but almost all of them have since been acquitted or released after recovering part or all funds they had illegally collected.
But while most Mubarak sovereigns have since quietly lived on the sidelines, second-rate Mubarak loyalists have found their way back to public life under the reign of general-turned president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, especially in parliament, a predominantly rubber-like room full of supporters from the government and the media.
The frequent public appearances of Gamal Mubarak and the relatively warm reception he received from members of the public, however, have drawn the fury of the supporters of el-Sissi.
Yasser Rizq, possibly the closest newspaper editor of el-Sissi, warned Gamal Mubarak in an article in May against fostering political ambitions. He suggested that the son of Mubarak would forge a covenant with the forbidden Muslim Brotherhood to become president if the second, four-year term of el-Sissi ends in 2022.
El-Sissi led the expulsion of the military in 2013 from the first freely elected president of Egypt – Mohammed Morsi of the Brotherhood – and has since monitored a massive crackdown on his supporters, thousands of them together with secular activists imprisoned behind the revolt of 2011.
The Constitution of Egypt prohibits el-Sissi from working for a third term, but his supporters have sometimes raised the ghost of an amendment to the constitution to allow him or to extend the term of his term of office. He won this year a second term in an election in which his only opponent was a little-known politician who was known as one of his most loyal supporters.