Hordes of distraught Egyptians took to the streets after a judge dropped charges against former president Hosni Mubarak for the murders of hundreds of protesters killed during the country's 2011 revolution.
The demonstrations revealed growing discontent with the current military rule of President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi. The military reacted to the protests by closing off Cairo's Tahrir Square, the nerve center of the 2011 uprising.
The judge's ruling — which also acquitted all seven of Mubarak's former security chiefs who were facing murder charges — deemed the 86-year-old former leader not guilty on a technicality. The judge said the case was "inadmissible" because prosecutors did not indict Mubarak until three months after he was ousted, according to Egyptian investigative reporter Hossam Bahgat.
The ruling followed violent anti-government and anti-military protests on Friday. At least four civilians were killed in the first large-scale organized demonstrations in months. Security forces opened fire on the protesters in Cairo, witnesses told Al Jazeera.
The Islamist group Salafi Front organized Friday's demonstrations. Videos show distraught protesters bleeding and lying on the ground in Cairo.
The protests included supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, including a march of mostly women in Alexandria.
"Sisi, you are Mubarak's dog," the women chant in a video of the demonstration. "Execution is waiting for you."
News of Mubarak's acquittal only compounded the sense of frustration for many Egyptians.
"It's an oppressive ruling," Mostafa Morsi, the father of a young man killed in the 2011 protests, told AFP of Judge Mahmud Kamel al-Rashidi's verdict. "The blood of my son has been wasted."
Mubarak — who still must serve a three-year sentence for embezzlement of public funds —insisted after the verdict that he had "done nothing wrong at all."
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