CAIRO — In his first comments to the media since he was detained more than two years ago, Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak said he is dismayed at the country's state of affairs and particularly the plight of the poor.
The 85-year-old Mubarak spoke to Al-Watan newspaper after a session of his retrial for his role in the killing of hundreds of protesters during the popular uprising that forced him to step down in 2011. His comments were published Sunday, a day after he appeared in the dock on a hospital gurney, alongside his two sons. The trial was adjourned for June 8.
Mubarak told the newspaper reporter he was "very, very sad" for impoverished Egyptians. He said he was also dismayed by the state of the economy, the industrial cities built during his nearly 30 years in office, and the country's lack of security.
Mubarak also said that it was too early to judge his elected successor, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, saying that he has a heavy burden to deal with.
The comments were Mubarak's first to a reporter since he was ousted, and his first public statements since his captivity.
Mubarak was detained two years ago and put on trial for complicity in the killing of nearly 900 protesters in the first days of the revolt against him. He has since been hospitalized, sentenced to life in prison and then granted a retrial. He is also accused in a number of corruption cases, where prosecutors are investigating his family wealth amid claims he amassed a formidable fortune while in power. His two sons are also on trial on corruption charges.
In his comments, Mubarak also said he feared for the country's future and its poor should tough economic measures be imposed in order to acquire a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Egypt's economy took a hard hit over the last two years as foreign reserves dwindled, foreign investment sharply declined and tourists largely stayed away amid political turmoil.
Morsi's government would have to impose likely unpopular austerity measures as part of an economic reform program it is negotiating with the IMF. But talks have dragged on, while politics remain deeply polarized and consensus on managing the country's affairs is elusive.
Mubarak also said he is certain future generations will view his legacy fairly and that history will "exonerate" him. The former strongman stepped down on Feb. 11, 2011, after an 18-day popular uprising that demanded he resign. Protesters accused him of corruption and fostering a culture where power was centralized and police acted with impunity. Protesters feared Mubarak was preparing his son to succeed him.