Thursday’s papers: Gamal and Alaa Mubarak arrested, join the Tora gang

As with the previous day, Thursday’s papers continue to be dominated by the long-awaited news of former President Hosni Mubarak’s detainment, as well as the arrest of his sons, Gamal and Alaa. Despite his allegedly deteriorating health, there is little sympathy to be found in the front-page headlines for the Egyptian people’s self-proclaimed “father;” even state-owned — and until recently, highly sycophantic — Al-Ahram celebrates with a banner citing “widespread national jubilation” that came after the arrests were announced. With palpable energy, and an impressive lack of irony, the paper’s lead report goes on to describe the “overwhelming sense of joy and retribution” felt by “all levels, classes, sects, and factions within the Egyptian population, as well as beyond it.”

According to Al-Ahram, Mubarak was questioned by officials for two hours on Tuesday night immediately after arriving at a Sharm el-Sheikh hospital for “low blood pressure.” The former president was allowed a short break in order to take his medication, after which the interrogation resumed. Mubarak’s sons Gamal and Alaa were present during the first half of the investigation, before being “quickly removed from the scene under tight security” and transported to a nearby courthouse, the paper reports. The two sons were questioned for four hours before prosecutors decided to arrest them for 15 days each, a decision that was announced by the head of security to “throngs of chanting protesters who had gathered outside the courthouse.”

The Mubarak boys were then placed in a minibus, which transported them to the airport under a hail of stones and trash hurled by crowds of protesters.

Thursday’s papers collectively report on charges the brothers face, with Gamal accused of illicit gains, squandering public funds, sabotaging the national economy, and involvement in killing protesters. Alaa, meanwhile, has only been accused of illicit gains. Several of the papers note that some of these charges could be met with the death penalty.

Further details can be found in independent daily Al-Wafd, which takes obvious pride in providing “exclusive details about the darkest night in the history of the Mubarak family.” The paper’s report depicts an amusing slapstick scene of the arrest and subsequent incarcerations, with Alaa Mubarak allegedly deteriorating into a sobbing mess, causing his older brother Gamal to snap, “Shut up, boy!”

The same anonymous source informed Al-Wafd that the two men arrived at Torah prison in a state of “shock” and were reunited with cronies such as former NDP Secretary General Ahmed Nazif and steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, but refused to speak with either former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly or Presidential Chief of Staff Zakaria Azmy, also imprisoned at the same facility. Upon hearing news of his sons’ arrests, the former president strangely “lost sight in his left eye,” the paper reports.

Al-Wafd also adds that the two brothers asked to share a cell, a request that was met with a 1.5 by 2 meter room with a view of a “small handball court.”

Independent daily Al-Shorouk reveals details left out by Al-Wafd’s “exclusive” coverage, claiming that upon arrival, Gamal was clearly more composed than his sobbing brother. He continued to make calls on his cellular phone, which he initially refused to hand over to prison officials, while Alaa quietly allowed himself to be “thoroughly” searched. The paper reports that Gamal even made several calls, in which he described his immediate surroundings with exaggerated disdain, and, at one point, announced into his phone: “Gamal and Alaa, the president’s sons, are imprisoned, and will not flee from confronting justice, just as their father did not.”

Al-Shorouk’s report briefly mentions “violent confrontations” between Torah prison guards and inmates that occurred during “extensive reorganization” in anticipation of the two brothers’ arrival.

Mubarak’s lawyers, meanwhile, continue to use Habib al-Adly as a scapegoat for protester deaths, claiming that al-Adly ordered the use of live ammunition, a decision which the president was unaware but had not authorized “directly.” Mubarak’s case was not aided by claims of Safwat al-Sherif, who accused the ousted president and his two sons of authorizing the killing of civilians. Al-Sherif offered to present incriminating documents in exchange for restricting his eventual sentence to house arrest.

Former First Lady Suzanne Mubarak is also currently under investigation, according to Al-Dostour. The independent daily reports on its front page that Mubarak, née Thabet, is being interrogated for illicit gains, profiteering, using her husband’s influence to secure lucrative business deals, and direct involvement in the killing of protesters during the uprising’s early stages.

Beyond the Mubarak clan, news of Fathi Sorour’s arrest also made the front page of Al-Ahram. The former NDP president will be held for 15 days pending investigation of illicit gains.

In other news, Al-Shorouk reports that, in light of recent events, the 25 January Youth Coalition decided to postpone Friday’s scheduled Tahrir Square protest.

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