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Once powerful Mubarak scions now face jail

world Updated: Aug 03, 2011 14:19 IST

Once the scion of an autocratic ruler who looked to inherit Egypt's presidency, Gamal Mubarak now shares a cage with his brother as their trial began on Wednesday along with that of ex-president Hosni Mubarak himself.

The once influential brothers are accused of corruption, and face years in jail if convicted.

It is a spectacular fall from grace that neither Gamal, 47, nor his elder brother Alaa, could ever have imagined.

They were raised in luxury in Cairo's upscale Heliopolis district. Gamal studied at the American University of Cairo and was a banker in London until 1995, when he returned to Egypt following an attempt on his father's life.

Gamal had risen in the party ranks over the past decade, heading a powerful committee he created that oversaw liberal economic reforms and surrounding himself with widely reviled businessmen.

Just a few months before the revolt that ousted Mubarak in February, Gamal had helped oversee a parliamentary election campaign that reduced the opposition to a rump while strengthening the ruling National Democratic Party.

The election, which critics said was rigged, was seen as a gambit in Gamal's bid to succeed his father, who ruled Egypt for three decades.

The widespread belief that Gamal was eyeing the presidency was one of the grievances that pushed Egyptians out to protest for 18 days, forcing his father to resign.

Throughout the crisis, Gamal was believed to have egged his father on, advising him to face down the protests and refuse to quit.

His brother Alaa led a quieter life, but he too was said to have taken advantage of his father's position to amass great wealth through corrupt business dealings.

Alaa was the more popular of the two, and he was reported to have publicly lashed out at his brother during a gathering for losing his father the presidency.

After their arrest, the brothers were detained in Cairo's Tora prison, along with a number of former regime officials. They reportedly stay to themselves and rarely leave their cells.

They receive visits from their wives, but they have not seen their mother, the half-Welsh Suzanne, who was said to have stoked Gamal's presidential aspirations and who also faces corruption charges.

Gamal has a young daughter by his wife Khadija, and Alaa had two children by Haidi Rassekh.

One of Alaa's sons, Mohammed, died in 2009 at the age of 12. The boy's death reportedly so shocked the president that he could not receive visiting heads of state for a while.