|Egyptian former president Hosni Mubarak reacts inside a defendant's cage in a court in Cairo, Egypt, on May 21, 2014. An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced former president Hosni Mubarak to three years in jail for embezzlement of public funds designated for presidential palace maintenance, state-run Nile TV reported.(Xinhua/Ahmed Gamil)
CAIRO, May 21 (Xinhua) -- An Egyptian court on Wednesday found former President Hosni Mubarak guilty of embezzling public funds designated for building maintenance and sentenced him to three years in jail, state-run Nile TV reported.
The Cairo Criminal Court, presided by Judge Ousama Shaheen, also sentenced Mubarak's sons, Alaa and Gamal, to four-year jail terms in the same case.
Mubarak and his sons, along with other four of his aides, were charged with misappropriating 100 million pounds (14 million U.S. dollars) of funds intended to refurbish the presidential palace.
"The people are the owners of the public funds," said the judge before reading the verdict adding, "although Mubarak swore to respect the constitution and the law, he gave himself and his sons the freedom to take from public properties whatever they wanted."
The Mubaraks were fined 125 million Egyptian pounds (nearly 17. 5 million dollars), and were ordered to pay 21 million Egyptian pounds (nearly 2.9 million dollars) to the state treasury.
The four aides, who were accused of facilitating the Mubaraks' seizure of public funds, were eventually acquitted for lack of evidence.
In the previous trial, the prosecution accused Mubarak and his family of funneling public money into decorative building projects for their private villas and offices in Sharm el-Sheikh and Heliopolis.
Following the verdict, Mubarak supporters carried posters of the deposed leader outside the court building, chanting against the court's decision, while activists on social networking sites like Twitter criticized the three-year jail term as too short when compared to those who were sentenced to two-year jail terms for violating Egypt's controversial protest law, which requires activists to obtain legal permission to demonstrate.
Mubarak, 86, ruled Egypt for nearly three decades and was toppled by nationwide protests in January 2011.
The ex-president is currently also facing a retrial for his role in the killing of protesters during the unrest. In his first trial, he was sentenced to life for inciting violence and killing peaceful protesters.
Mubarak was released from custody last August following the end of the permitted detention period and after settling another case against him by refunding gifts he received from state-run Ahram institutions.
Since his release, Mubarak has been staying at the Maadi Military Hospital in the capital city of Cairo.
He is likely to return to prison in the near future, but an appeal on the verdict could buy him time.
His two sons remain in jail on other corruption cases, such as exploiting public funds for their own interests and exporting natural gas to Israel at prices lower than international market rates.
Egypt's former military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is expected to get an easy victory in the May 26 presidential elections, said in a recent interview that Mubarak-era figures will have no place in Egypt's political life if he wins the elections.
The comments come as an Egyptian court on May 6 banned former members of Mubarak's now-defunct National Democratic Party from running in any coming elections.
In a separate case, 155 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were sentenced on Wednesday to jail terms ranging from one year in prison to life over charges of violence in the Delta city of Mansoura last August following the security forces' harsh crackdown on the loyalists of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in the capital Cairo and Giza, which left about 1,000 killed and thousands of others arrested.
Hundreds of Morsi supporters have received death sentences including Mohamed Badei, the guide of the Brotherhood, over violent acts that erupted after Morsi's removal.