"Since 2005, Mubarak wasn't even ruling the country," said Mustafa Bakri, a newspaper editor and former member of parliament. "Egypt had become a marriage between money and political power run by Gamal Mubarak and businessmen loyal to him. It wasn't a government. It was a gang. When the president's grandson died in 2009, that was the final punch. Mubarak grew jaded and lost interest in ruling the country."
The 12-year-old grandson, Mohamed, reportedly died from a brain hemorrhage. He was the child of Mubarak's elder son, Alaa, who has also been arrested on corruption charges.
A government investigation released in April concluded that Mubarak was responsible for the violent response by police that led to the deaths of at least 846 people during the revolution. Snipers, police officers and government-paid thugs were described in the report as "firing bullets at the head and chest." Only Mubarak, the investigative panel's leading judge said, could have given such a command.
Mubarak's authority flowed from a constitution amended over the years to concentrate his hold on the nation. It is this grip on Egypt's institutions, especially the Interior Ministry, that may now become the greatest obstacle for his legal defense.
"Mubarak is more likely to be indicted for killing protesters than for financial corruption," said Tarek Awady, a lawyer at the Egyptian Court of High Appeals. "The previous constitution was clear that Mubarak was the only person entitled to give, and directly responsible for, orders to shoot protesters."
The former leader has denied wrongdoing: "I would never participate in the killing of Egyptian citizens," he told prosecutors, according to leaked interrogation transcripts. "I gave orders to deal with protesters without violence, peacefully."
Amro Hassan of The Times' Cairo bureau contributed to this report.