March 2 (UPI) -- An Egyptian court on Thursday acquitted former President Hosni Mubarak of charges he played a role in the killing of protesters during an uprising in 2011, clearing the way for his release from prison.
In Cairo, the Court of Cassation rejected demands by victims' lawyers to reopen civil suits. The final verdict means Mubarak, 88, can be released from Maadi Military Hospital.
He has had heart problems and stomach cancer since he left office after the 18 days of protests.
Mubarak, who was elected president in 1981, was flown by helicopter to the courtroom. He was brought in on a stretcher and sat in a wheelchair.
"He fully intends to go home, perhaps in a month or two," Yousri Abdelraziq, a lawyer, said to The New York Times. He suggested one possibility is his palatial villa at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh.
A lower court convicted Mubarak in 2012 of ordering the deaths of protesters and sentenced him to life in prison. At least 840 people died and more than 6,000 were injured during the protests, Amnesty International said.
But in January 2013, the Court of Cassation overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial.
In 2014, he was tried again and the court acquitted him and his other co-defendants, including former Interior Minister Habib El-Adly and four aides.
In 2015, the Court of Cassation ordered a third trial and he was acquitted Thursday by the highest court.
Mubarak was also convicted on corruption charges of embezzling $17.9 million for the renovation of the presidential palace. In January 2016, the Court of Cassation rejected an appeal by Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, of their conviction. They were ordered to pay $16 million and sentenced to three years in prison. But their time served was credited.
"It's pretty telling that Mubarak, who ran the country into the ground, gets acquitted, and people who gave their everything to try and do something for the country are sitting in prison," Ahdaf Soueif, an author whose nephew, the activist and blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah, remains in jail, told The New York Times.