Conflict & Justice

Egypt's Mubarak may have stomach cancer


An Egyptian policeman stands guard outside Sharm el-Sheikh hospital where former president Hosni Mubarak was admitted after he reportedly suffered a heart attack yesterday during questioning by prosecutors, in the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on April 13, 2011.



Three years ago in Egypt, a prominent newspaper editor was thrown into prison for speculating that Hosni Mubarak's health was failing.

Today, speculation about the former president's deteriorating physical conditions is instead making headlines.

Mubarak, who was ousted on February 11 after widespread street protests, is believed to have stomach cancer, according to the former leader's defense attorney.

"He has a stomach cancer and the tumors are growing," Farid el-Deeb, Mubarak's defense lawyer, told Al-Jazeera on Monday.

El-Deeb also said that Mubarak's cancer was "causing severe repercussions on his heart and brain vessels."

The Mubarak family has apparently known about the disease since March 2010 but kept it a secret, according to the same report.

Mubarak spent more than a month in a German hospital in 2010 after having gallbladder surgery.  During that absence, rumors about Mubarak's declining health, possible death, and even mummification fueled a heated debate over the future political leadership of the country.

Since leaving office last February, Mubarak's conditions have worsened, according to new reports.

In April, Mubarak reportedly survived a heart attack while under investigation for corruption charges.

The former president is also believed to have suffered bouts of depression since leaving office.

Whether or not Mubarak actually has cancer could be a huge factor in the decision to try to former leader in a court of law.  Egyptian officials in the interim government, however, have said the trial could be moved for "security or health reasons."

Mubarak will go to trial on corruption charges on August 3. He will also face allegations that he ordered police to shoot and kill Egyptian protesters during the January uprising.

Mubarak's health problems have spared him the fate of his two sons Gamal and Alaa, both currently in prison just south of Cairo pending investigation. Instead, Mubarak has been staying in comparative luxury - at a hospital in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Some Egyptians are cynical, believing that Mubarak and his wife are using the health problems as a cover to avoid a public trial.  Mubarak's wife, Suzanne, also reportedly suffered a heart attack while being questioned over misuse of public funds.

Egypt's current health chief told a popular local newspaper that the former president's health was not deteriorating as reported.

“His health condition is stable,” Ashraf Hatem, Egypt's Minister of Health, told Al-Masry Al-Youm.