The sons of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were released from custody Friday, two days before the fourth anniversary of an uprising that ended their father's rule and led to their imprisonment.
Alaa and Gamal Mubarak were freed early in the day after finishing the required paperwork at a Cairo police station, the state-run Al-Ahram news service reported, citing unnamed sources. Mohamed Hamouda, a lawyer with the Mubaraks' legal team, confirmed that they had walked free after spending more than three years behind bars.
Their release followed a court decision Thursday granting them freedom pending retrial in an embezzlement case related to the presidential palaces. They each had been sentenced to four years in prison last May before their appeal against the verdict was accepted Tuesday.
Gamal -- once widely presumed to be Hosni Mubarak's heir apparent -- Alaa, their father and other defendants were convicted of embezzling $17.9 million allocated for developing communication centers affiliated with the presidency. The defendants also were fined. However, acceptance of the appeal means all previous sentences in the case were revoked.
Hosni Mubarak, who resides in a Cairo military hospital, received a three-year prison sentence in the same case.
Hamouda said the elder Mubarak's stay in the hospital, where he was once imprisoned, had become optional even before the court accepted the appeal because he had been imprisoned for more than three years and had already fulfilled his sentence.
"Only his deteriorating health is what keeps him in hospital now," Hamouda said.
He noted that the four-year sentences initially given to Alaa and Gamal Mubarak in the presidential palaces case were the last court rulings keeping them in custody. Although the sons are still facing corruption charges, their detention exceeded the maximum period for imprisonment without conviction.
Hosni Mubarak, his wife, Suzanne, and his sons were placed under house arrest less than two months after his ouster from power in February 2011.
Mubarak and his sons were later transferred to Tora Prison in southern Cairo as they faced a number of criminal and corruption charges. The 86-year-old Mubarak didn't spend as much time in Tora as his sons because he was hospitalized several times.
Mubarak, along with other defendants who included former Interior Minister Habib Adly, also faced charges of being involved in the killings of hundreds of protesters during the January 25 Revolution.
Mubarak initially received a life sentence in that case in June 2012, before a Cairo court dropped the charges last November after a retrial.
Tarek is a special correspondent.