The witch-hunt continues as Mubarak’s wife is taken to intensive care unit

Suzanne Thabet

The wife of former  Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Suzanne Thabet, was moved to an intensive care unit after suffering a heart attack Friday, hours after being ordered detained in a corruption probe, state TV said. “Suzanne Thabet has been moved to the intensive care unit at Sharm el-Sheikh hospital after suffering a heart attack,” the television reported, referring to Egypt’s Red Sea resort. Mohammed Fathallah, who heads the hospital, said in a statement handed to reporters that Mrs Mubarak had suffered a “suspected heart attack and a sharp increase in blood pressure … She will be kept under observation.” The news came hours after the Illicit Gains Authority ordered Suzanne Mubarak’s detention for 15 days on charges of illegal acquisition of wealth and as preparations were underway to move her to prison outside Cairo.

Preparations were underway to move her from Sharm el-Sheikh hospital, where she was staying with her husband, to Qanater women’s prison, Mohamed al-Khatib, head of south Sinai security, earlier told state news agency MENA. She will be taken to Cairo by plane “due to the danger of transporting her by road,” he said. It was the first detention order for Mrs Mubarak, who along with her husband had been questioned on Thursday night by the illicit gains department. The former first couple are accused of having abused their position for the illegal acquisition of wealth. Crowds of people in Tahrir Square broke out into cheers and women ululated on hearing the news of her detention. The half-Welsh former First Lady was seen as the driving force behind plans to have her son Gamal take over the presidency from his father, a highly unpopular prospect in Egypt. On Friday, the authority also ordered a further 15-day detention of Mubarak after the three-hour interrogation.

He was first detained on April 13 and is currently in custody in the Sharm el-Sheikh hospital after having reportedly suffered a heart attack when he was first questioned. He has already been interrogated by the state prosecutor over several charges, including ordering the shooting of anti-regime protesters, and has been held under remand for repeated 15-day periods. During the questioning, Mubarak and his wife had agreed to reveal details of their bank accounts both in and outside of Egypt, MENA said. Mubarak was also questioned about a villa he owns in Sharm el-Sheikh worth 36 million Egyptian pounds (about $6 million) “without counting the cost of the swimming pool,” MENA said. He was also asked about having personal control of the $145-million bank account of the Alexandria Library.

The former First Lady was interrogated about a luxury villa she owns in Cairo, as well as 20 million pounds (about $3.3 million) held in a bank account, MENA said. Mubarak, his wife, two sons Alaa and Gamal and their wives were banned from travel and their assets ordered frozen by general prosecutor Abdel Magid Mahmud shortly after the former strongman was overthrown in February. The two sons, along with dozens of officials and businessmen associated with the former regime, are being detained in Cairo’s notorious Tora prison which housed political dissidents during the Mubarak era. Alaa and Gamal had been questioned on their ties “with a company in Cyprus and one of the British Isles managing investment funds of some businessmen,” a spokesman at the public prosecutor’s office said. Both men are also accused of forcing businessmen to give them a cut in local partnerships with foreign companies.

Before the popular uprising which ousted Mubarak, Gamal, who was close to business executives and held a top post in Egypt’s ruling party, was regarded as the political heir to Mubarak, while Alaa concentrated on business. The wives of Alaa and Gamal, Heidi Rasekh and Khadiga al-Gammal, have also been questioned over Mubarak’s wealth. Earlier this month, Switzerland said it had frozen 410 million francs ($463 million) in funds linked to Mubarak and his associates. Mubarak’s 30-year grip on power was brought to an end on February 11 following mass nationwide protests that called for his resignation and for political and economic reforms. The military council which has been in power since Mubarak stepped down has vowed to bring to justice all those accused of abuse and launched a sweeping probe into corruption. At least 846 people were killed during the anti-regime protests that kicked off on January 25 and took 18 days to overthrow Mubarak. More than 6,000 people were injured in clashes with security forces and regime loyalists.


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