Doctors administer oxygen to Egyptian ex-president: officials


CAIRO–Security officials say Hosni Mubarak’s condition has deteriorated so much that doctors had to constantly administer oxygen to him overnight.

The officials at Cairo’s Torah prison where Mubarak is serving a life sentence said the former president was given oxygen throughout the night and until Thursday morning. They say the 84-year-old Mubarak continues to suffer from breathing problems, high blood pressure and depression. They say Mubarak’s son and one-time heir apparent Gamal is by his side.

Mubarak was sentenced last Saturday to life imprisonment for failing to prevent the killing of protesters during the uprising that toppled his regime last year. He and his sons Gamal and Alaa were acquitted of corruption charges.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The deposed leader’s health scare on Wednesday added to the uncertainty engulfing Egypt, where powerful political groups are seeking to bar Mubarak’s former prime minister from the presidential runoff and derail the election.

Officials at Cairo’s Torah prison said the 84-year-old Mubarak’s condition had moved to a “dangerous” phase and that doctors administered oxygen five times to help him breathe. He was also suffering from shock, high blood pressure and severe depression, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Mubarak was being treated in the prison hospital’s intensive care unit, which recently underwent a US$1 million renovation to prepare for his arrival, the officials said. He was the only patient in the five-bed ICU ward.

Dr. Hamdi el-Sayyed, who has treated Mubarak over the last decade, said imprisonment in Torah was “inhumane” given his age and poor health.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the gravity of Mubarak’s condition. But the ex-leader’s health has been an issue in recent years.

He was treated in 2010 for cancer of the gallbladder and pancreas, and his lawyer said after his arrest in April 2011 that it might have spread to his stomach. Officials denied the claim at the time.

Still, the ousted leader was ordered held in a military hospital after a government-appointed panel of physicians determined in May 2011 that he was too ill to be held in prison while awaiting trial, saying he suffered from heart trouble and had tumors in his pancreas removed. It did not say whether the tumors were malignant.

Mubarak did not want to go to Torah prison after he was sentenced on Saturday, pleading with his escort to take him back to the military hospital east of Cairo where he had stayed in a suite since his trial began in August. Before that, he was held in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Mubarak and his ex-security chief received life sentences for failing to stop the killing of protesters during last year’s uprising, but he and his two sons — one-time heir apparent Gamal and wealthy businessman Alaa — were acquitted of corruption charges. The sons are also being held in Torah, awaiting a separate trial on charges of insider trading.

Mubarak’s authoritarian regime was widely unpopular by the time of his overthrow, but conditions in Egypt have gone from bad to worse, with a wave of deadly protests, a battered economy and seemingly endless strikes.