Egypt's ousted president Hosni Mubarak was ordered to be freed from detention today, according to the prosecutor who signed his release order.
The decision ends nearly six years of legal proceedings against Mubarak and seems certain to revive the ongoing debate over whether the goals of the 2011 uprising that ended his reign were ever realised.
The prosecutor, Ibrahim Saleh, said that he ordered Mubarak's release after he accepted a petition by the former President's lawyer for his freedom on the basis of time already served.
Mubarak, 88, was acquitted by the country's top appeals court on March 2 of charges that he ordered the killing of protesters during the 2011 revolution. That verdict, according to Saleh, cleared the way for Mubarak's lawyer to request his release.
Mubarak, according to Saleh, has already served a three-year sentence for embezzling state funds while in detention in connection with the protesters' case.
"There is not a single reason to keep him in detention and the police must execute the order," Saleh said. "He is free to go."A criminal court ruled in May 2015 to jail Mubarak for three years and fine him millions of Egyptian pounds following his conviction for embezzling funds earmarked for the maintenance and renovation of presidential palaces. The ruling was upheld by another court in January 2016.
News of Mubarak's imminent release was greeted jubilantly by his supporters on a Facebook page entitled "I am sorry, Mr President".
One supporter, Tamer Abdel-Moneim, described Mubarak's trial in a column in the popular Al-Youm al-Sabei news site as a "farce".
He wrote: "The oppression and injustice that befell the man compels upstanding men to rally behind him to stop the silliest and most contemptuous farce we have recently known."
The order to release Mubarak was the latest in a series of court rulings in recent years that acquitted some two dozen, Mubarak-era cabinet ministers, top police officers and aides charged with graft or in connection with the killing of some 900 protesters during the uprising. Some of them have made a comeback to public life, while others partially paid back fortunes they illegally amassed.
Activists say Mubarak's acquittal of killing protesters has confirmed long-held suspicions that his trial and that of scores of policemen who faced trial on the same charge would never bring the justice they demanded.
It has also, according to activists and Egypt's beleaguered rights campaigners, confirmed widely-held suspicions that their "revolution" has been reversed by the Government of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, a general-turned-politician, in order to restore the status quo in a country ruled undemocratically by men of military background for most of the past 60-plus years.
"I knew from the very beginning that this was not going to take us anywhere," said rights lawyer Amir Salem, who represented the fallen protesters' families in the Mubarak trial.
"The trial of Mubarak needed an independent judiciary, which we don't have. But one day, he will be truly tried, but not under al-Sisi."