In less than two years, Hosni Mubarak went from president for life to a life sentence. Now, according to security officials, the deposed Egyptian dictator's health has deteriorated sharply. Mubarak is said to be slipping in and out of consciousness, and prison doctors have twice been forced to use a defibrillator on the 84-year-old.
Mubarak was tried as an accessory to killings that took place during the popular protests that overthrew his regime; and earlier this month he was sentenced to life. His two sons, Alaa and Gamal, who are in prison awaiting trial, have been moved closer to their ailing father; and a lawyer for Mubarak has asked for him to be moved to hospital. The request has reportedly not been answered.
Mubarak is being held in the notorious Torah prison, where he and his predecessors often sent political dissidents. But after a trial that aroused fury in many Egyptians (Mubarak was acquitted of several key charges, and he may have strong grounds for an appeal), some worry that this illness is a ploy to obtain leniency.
Since Mubarak's overthrow, Egypt has been run by a secretive council of generals. News of the ex-president's failing health comes a week before Egyptians vote in the second round of the country's first ever free presidential elections. The two candidates vying for the top spot are Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi and Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq.
Learn more: Issandr El Amrani at The Arabist offers some of the best commentary on the current political climate in Egypt.