Mohamed Abdel-Baky sifts through dozens of rumours concerning Hosni Mubarak's health
Less than two weeks after receiving a 25-year prison sentence for failing to intervene to prevent the murder of protesters and former president Hosni Mubarak's health is the subject of ever more fevered speculation.
Mubarak's health is said to have collapsed following his 2 June conviction and subsequent transfer to Tora prison hospital. Days after entering the prison hospital the Egyptian media reported that the 84-year-old was suffering from high blood pressure and severe depression.
Mubarak's lawyer, Farid El-Deeb, requested his client be transferred to a private or military hospital. In response Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud ordered a medical committee be set up to monitor Mubarak's health and report to the Ministry of Interior. The newly established committee has said that Mubarak is experiencing shortness of breath due to an irregular heartbeat and has slipped in and out of consciousness several times.
"Though his condition had improved by Sunday he is in danger of suffering a stroke at any time," concluded the committee.
During his last courtroom appearance Mubarak was stonyfaced in the caged dock. There were reports that he burst into tears on learning he was to be transferred to Tora prison.
He has been visited in Tora hospital by his wife and daughters-in-law and the prison authorities approved Mubarak a request that his sons, Gamal and Alaa, be moved to cells adjacent to the hospital.
El-Deeb claims his request for Mubarak to be transferred to a military hospital in Maadi is being ignored because officials fear a public backlash.
"This is revenge. I am not saying release him. I am saying take him to a hospital where he can be taken care of," said El-Deeb.
"Mubarak is in a very bad state and he must be transferred immediately to a hospital. He spent his life in service of the country and it is unacceptable to keep him in these conditions."
"The hospital at Tora is fully equipped to take care of Mubarak," says Forensic Authority director Maged Hammam. "It has a good intensive care unit and labs."
El-Deeb has accused the authorities of ignoring medical records showing Mubarak's ill health had necessitated he remain in a state of the art hospital during the duration of his trial.
Since Mubarak's arrival security at Tora prison has been intensified. Special forces are now stationed around the detention facility, and snipers man the compound's towers.
Human rights activist Nasser Amin believes Mubarak's chances to be transferred to another hospital are narrow given that the medical committee formed by the prosecutor-general has concluded he can be adequately treated at the Tora prison's medical facilities.
"If the political will is there to transfer Mubarak to another hospital I think a way out will be found, but I don't expect any decision to be made before the run-off election," says Amin.
If the prosecutor-general did agree to transfer Mubarak to another hospital the deposed president is likely to end up in one of two military facilities, the International Medical Centre where he remained during the course of his trial, or Maadi's military hospital. The latter would be exposed to protests from both pro- and anti-Mubarak demonstrators.
Hundreds of Mubarak's supporters have already demonstrated in front of the prosecutor-general's office and Tora prison to demand his temporary release for treatment at a private hospital. They have argued that some of Mubarak's political opponents, including former presidential candidate Ayman Nour and Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat El-Shater, were released on health grounds.
The prosecutor-general has the authority to temporarily release Mubarak to be treated at a private hospital in Egypt. To receive treatment abroad, however, Mubarak would have to be pardoned, either by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces or the incoming president. Only then would he be free to leave Egypt.