Hosni Mubarak was on life support in hospital on Wednesday, Egyptian military officials said, denying a report that the ousted president was clinically dead.
Earlier Egypt’s state news agency MENA, amid high tension over the election of a new president, quoted medical sources as saying the former head of state, aged 84, was “clinically dead”. That description was used also to Reuters by a hospital source.
Speaking to Ahram Online before midnight Tuesday, an informed source denied news circulating that Mubarak is clinically dead. He said that the ousted president is still technically alive.
He would not comment on whether or not Mubarak could survive the current health attack.
“I am not that close to the direct medical circle; only a few people know the exact health condition of Mubarak at this particular moment,” he said.
Several sources in the military and security services, which retain control following the revolt, told Reuters that Mubarak, 84, was being kept alive and said they would not use the expression “clinically dead” to describe his condition.
General Said Abbas, a member of the ruling military council, told Reuters that the imprisoned former president had suffered a stroke but added: “Any talk of him being clinically dead is nonsense.”
Another military source said: “He is completely unconscious. He is using artificial respiration.”
Another member of the military council, General Mamdouh Shaheen, told CNN: “He is not clinically dead as reported, but his health is deteriorating and he is in critical condition.”
The plan to move Mubarak to Maadi Military Hospital has been underway for a few days – effectively, since his arrival at Tora Prison Hospital on 2 June, after having been sentence to life imprisonment after being found guilty of participating in the crime of killing of protesters during last year’s 18-day uprising.
Mubarak has been portrayed as being in poor health by officials for the past year. He was wheeled in to court during his trial on a hospital stretcher.
Many Egyptians have been sceptical. Some protested when he was not sentenced to death. Many others suspect fellow officers, who pushed him aside after 30 years to appease the protesters, of conniving to give him a more comfortable confinement.
Mubarak’s legal team has been pressing to have him moved from the prison hospital to a better-equipped facility, saying he was not receiving adequate treatment for his condition. However, prison authorities previously refused to let him go.
There has been no clear statement from independent medical experts on what ails him, though state media have reported a variety of illnesses from shortage of breath to heart attacks.
During the best part of last year, Mubarak had been kept at the International Medical Centre, on the outskirts of Cairo, where his health further deteriorated – some related to old age and some to cancer.
Mubarak was inaugurated in October 1981 following the assassination of his predecessor Anwar El-Sadat at the hands of militant Islamists during a parade to commemorate the October War. Sadat was rushed to the same Maadi hospital, where he died later that day.
The confusion over Mubarak’s health comes as his long-time opponents in the Muslim Brotherhood, represented by candidate Mohamed Mursi, claim victory over the imprisoned president’s last premier and fellow military man, Ahmed Shafiq, in a presidential election runoffs held at the weekend.
Results have not been published, and supporters of Shafiq said it was he who had won, while Mursi’s campaign has maintained their man’s victory, publishing a compendium of the results to verify their count.
State news agency MENA had earlier cited medical sources to say that Mubarak was clinically dead. His heart had stopped beating and could not be revived.
Later, however, the agency, citing medical sources, said a medical team was still trying treat a blood clot on the brain, adding that he had not left the intensive care unit at Tora prison, where he had been held since being sentenced to life imprisonment on June 2 for his role in the deaths of protesters.