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Mubarak, two sons detained in rare move

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Mubarak, sons detained in Egypt
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mubarak and two sons are being held for questioning in the killing of protesters
  • The questioning of Mubarak on corruption allegations already had begun, the military says
  • Egyptian state television reports Mubarak had a heart attack
  • Mubarak stepped down on February 11

Cairo (CNN) -- Egyptians exulted Wednesday over the detention of their ailing former president and his two sons in a probe exploring the killing of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the center of the country's dramatic uprising earlier this year.

Former President Hosni Mubarak and his sons, Gamal and Alaa, were taken into 15-day detainment Tuesday in connection with the protesters' deaths, according to Ahmed Hemeida with the Justice Ministry.

Mubarak has decried accusations of his responsibility in the deaths, saying the probe is aimed at tarnishing his reputation and that of his family.

The detention and questioning of the former authoritarian leader is unprecedented in the modern Arab world.

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Saddam Hussein, Iraq's late leader, was captured by U.S. troops and put on trial after his regime was toppled more than eight years ago -- but Mubarak's case is different because his detention didn't involve the West. In contrast to Hussein's case, the government made the arrest amid domestic demands that Mubarak be held.

People on the street in Cairo saw the arrest as a positive sign. One smiling taxi driver stopped in traffic, crossed his wrists in front of himself as if he was handcuffed and yelled "Mubarak 'cuffed!'" in Arabic.

Mahmoud Amreya, who cooks chicken and beef shawarma sandwiches over a hot grill, beamed. "I am very happy," he said.

Ahmed Abdulsalem, an accountant in a coffee shop, said Egypt "has taken a big step forward" with people regaining their dignity.

"In the previous regime corruption gave way to more corruption, and it was survival of the fittest," he said. "Corruption. The country was spiraling downwards from bad to worse, in all cases. What we are living today is much better than what it was under the oppressive regime."

The developments came a day after the former president -- who earlier was summoned for questioning on corruption allegations -- was admitted to a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh after complaining to his doctor he felt unwell.

Egyptian state television reported Mubarak suffered a heart attack during questioning over possible corruption charges.

Egypt's health minister later said Mubarak's condition was stable enough to allow prosecutors to resume questioning at the hospital, according to the state-owned Al Ahram newspaper.

A man who said he was the head doctor from a Ministry of Justice team assisting with Mubarak's questioning said late Wednesday the former leader had heart palpitations and was able to walk with assistance.

The doctor, Dr. Ahmed El Sabaaei, told Egypt's opposition Al Hayat El Youm TV that Mubarak was still at Sharm el-Sheikh International Hospital in stable condition. However, Alla Mahmoud, an Interior Ministry spokesman, told CNN that Mubarak was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Cairo on Wednesday.

The younger Mubaraks have been transferred to Cairo's Tora Prison, Hemeida said.

Mubarak and his family were believed to have been living on his estate in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since February 11, when he stepped down and handed power to the military.

In response to accusations that his family had grown wealthy at the expense of the Egyptian people, Mubarak, in a brief audio message aired Sunday, promised he and his family would account for everything they own. He said he agreed to allow the prosecutor to contact governments around the world to take "proper legal steps" to reveal whether he or his family own any property or real estate outside Egypt.

Mubarak was brought to Cairo for questioning last month, and Egypt's attorney general issued an order to freeze the assets of him and his family, and prohibited them from leaving the country.

Mubarak had back surgery in Germany in 2004 and returned for more surgery there in March 2010. It was widely reported the 2010 operation was to have his gall bladder removed, but El Sabaaei said Mubarak had actually been suffering from prostate cancer and went to Germany to have his prostate removed.

Mubarak had largely withdrawn from public view in recent years, until this year's uprising prompted him to make televised speeches. He ruled Egypt for nearly three decades before his regime was toppled by a groundswell of popular protests that began January 25.

On the street, meanwhile, Mohamed Gafar, a taxi driver, said that because of Mubarak's detention he is seeing a wellspring of joy from his perch, what he called "happiness beyond imagination."

"The man that used to put people in prison is now behind bars." he said. "They were the rulers of the country and today, with God's will, where are they? In prison. In prison. Oppression has an end. Every oppressor has an end."

CNN's Samson Desta, Caroline Faraj, Ivan Watson and journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy contributed to this report

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