Ex-First Lady of Egypt Is Detained in Inquiry

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Published: May 13, 2011

CAIRO — Egyptian corruption investigators detained Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of the ousted president, Hosni Mubarak, for questioning over allegations that she profited illegally from her position, government officials said on Friday. Hours later, state news agencies said Mrs. Mubarak had been hospitalized for a heart attack, an echo of reports several weeks ago that Mr. Mubarak, 82, had suffered a heart attack under questioning about official corruption.

Before the announcement of her hospitalization, officials had said Mrs. Mubarak, 70, would be held in a Cairo prison.

Mr. Mubarak has remained in detention in a hospital, while the couple’s two sons are in the Tora prison near Cairo, along with a host of other people close to the former president. The detentions are part of a push by Egyptian prosecutors to fulfill demands for a sweeping cleanup after the revolution that threw Mr. Mubarak out of office three months ago.

The Web site of the state-owned newspaper Al Ahram reported that Egypt’s top corruption investigator, Khaled Selim, traveled on Friday to Sharm el Sheikh, where the Mubarak family has a home, to question Mrs. Mubarak.

Like her husband and sons, Mrs. Mubarak was formally detained for 15 days for questioning, but in Egypt that typically amounts to indefinite imprisonment because the detention is routinely renewed, as it has been in the cases of her sons and husband. No charges have been filed against any of the Mubaraks.

Although such detention usually signals the likelihood of serious charges, it is unclear whether prosecutors intend to pursue a case against Mrs. Mubarak or to press her for information about her family’s wealth. She was best known for the work of her charitable organizations, including the National Council for Women and the Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement. She organized conferences about the concerns of women in the region, campaigned against the practice of female genital cutting and helped sponsor the Arab equivalent of “Sesame Street.”

But she also enjoyed the privileges of her position. In cables from the United States Embassy in Egypt that were released by the antisecrecy group WikiLeaks, diplomats described her as one of the most powerful figures in the Mubarak government. The diplomatic cables and reports in Egyptian state media since the revolution have also said that Mrs. Mubarak was considered an important force in propelling her son Gamal’s rise as a successor to his father.

A 2006 cable said that a 274-page report by an opposition group accusing her of corruption had stirred broad public anger. Another cable noted that on a visit to the Sinai she commandeered a bus for her own use that had been bought with money given by the United States Agency for International Development for carrying children to school.

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