Egypt disintegrated into chaos Saturday as thousands took to the streets, after former president Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison –– and not death –– for his role in the killing of protesters during the uprising that ousted him.
After the judge read the verdict, clashes erupted in the courtroom and outside the court between pro and anti-Mubarak crowds as people were outraged with the sentence, saying he deserved death sentence, RT news reports.
Families of those killed during the revolution, who carried posters emblazoned with photos of the dead, stood on chairs, threw punches, and pumped fists in the air, chanting the sentence was not enough.
Judge Ahmed Refaat chose the lesser of two sentences. Mubarak could have received the death penalty.
It was expected the sentence could have put Mubarak, who spent nearly 30 years as one of the Arab world's key strongmen, on death row. That is what demonstrators, mostly relatives of those killed in the revolution demanded, were shouting outside the court, says RT news.
According to Al Arabiya News, chants of “Void, void” and “The people want the judiciary purged” and "the people want to change the decision" could be heard soon after the verdicts were delivered.
Prosecutors who called for Mubarak's death were also furious, telling AFP they feared that Mubarak would be found innocent on appeal.
But Reuters says dozens of Mubarak supporters celebrated the ruling and chanted ''innocent.''
Meanwhile, the scene outside the courtroom mirrored the anger inside. Egyptian state TV said hundreds outside the court chanted: "Execution is the only solution" and "he who kills must die."
A large convoy of military armored personnel carriers arrived at the court compound in the early morning with lines of riot police also taking up positions at the entrance to the venue.
Police used stun grenades to control the crowds as scuffles broke out with security guards.
The only person not to show emotion in the half hour court session was the former strongman, himself, who wore dark glasses and a beige tracksuit. Mubarak and the judge were removed from the courtroom amid the melee.
Nearly 900 protesters were killed during the 18-day popular uprising that pushed Mubarak from power in February 2011, ending his 30-year rule.