CAIRO, Egypt – In his first remarks since his dramatic ouster, former President Hosni Mubarak denied that he used his position to amass wealth and property during three decades in power and issued an emotional defense of his legacy.
The statement, broadcast Sunday at the end of a turbulent weekend that saw a deadly military crackdown on protesters, only stoked more public anger.
In the prerecorded audiotape, the 82-year-old Mubarak spoke with a tone of authority more in keeping with his past power than his current situation. He said he had agreed to “authorize” an investigation of his finances and promised to sue all those who smeared his reputation.
Shortly after the speech was aired, Egypt’s prosecutor general announced he had issued orders summoning the ex-president and his two sons for questioning on the embezzlement allegations. The scope of the investigation was also widened to include the crackdown on protesters that killed an estimated 300 people.
The move could help ease public anger now largely directed at the military.
The pan-Arab news channel Al-Arabiya, which broadcast the speech, said it was recorded Saturday, a day after demonstrators gathered in huge numbers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demand that the military council that took over from Mubarak launch an investigation into his wealth.
The speech seemed to be as much about preserving his dignity as about denying the accusations against him.
“I was hurt very much, and I am still hurting – my family and I – from the unjust campaigns against us and false allegations that aim to smear my reputation, my integrity, my (political) stances and my military history,” Mubarak said.
The speech came as hundreds of protesters remain barricaded in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the uprising that forced Mubarak from office on Feb. 11 after 18 days of mass demonstrations.
Despite constitutional amendments to allow free elections and other steps toward a freer political scene, many in the anti-Mubarak movement are skeptical of the military’s pledges to meet all demands.
Since his ouster, Mubarak and his family have been under house arrest at a presidential palace in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, their assets frozen. But Mubarak has not been charged.
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