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Egypt's former first lady hospitalized after detention order

Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of former President Hosni Mubarak, reportedly suffered a heart attack and will undergo tests, officials say. She had been ordered held for 15 days in a corruption inquiry.

May 14, 2011|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Amro Hassan, Los Angeles Times
  • Suzanne Mubarak, above in 2008, is hospitalized at the same facility in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, as her husband, former President Hosni Mubarak.
Suzanne Mubarak, above in 2008, is hospitalized at the same facility in… (Ali Haider, EPA )

Reporting from Cairo — Hours after Egypt's former first lady, Suzanne Mubarak, was ordered detained as part of the widening corruption investigation of her husband's regime, she was hospitalized after reportedly suffering a heart attack, officials said Friday.

The manager of a hospital in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el Sheik told the state news agency MENA that she had been transferred to intensive care. The hospital official told the news agency that the former first lady would undergo tests over the next 24 hours to determine whether she had suffered a heart attack.

Her husband, former President Hosni Mubarak, 83, has been in the same hospital since he suffered what were termed health complications last month, shortly after authorities announced that he would be detained.

Timeline: Revolution in Egypt

Suzanne Mubarak was interrogated Friday, according to MENA, and had been ordered detained for at least 15 days, but was instead hospitalized.

The detention order was a once-unthinkable turn of events for the 70-year-old socialite, who styled herself as a patron of women's causes and spent years arranging for her son to succeed her husband, only to see her plan defeated in January by a popular uprising.

She was seen as a political operator who worked behind the scenes to promote son Gamal, who, along with her other son, Alaa, is among those being investigated.

"She had the upper hand in so many things in Egypt, sometimes even bypassing her husband's will. A whole Ministry for Family and Population was established a few years ago just for her sake," said Nabil Abdel Fattah, an analyst at the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. "She was the strong lady at the presidential palace."

Nawal Saadawi, an outspoken Egyptian feminist and one of Suzanne Mubarak's archenemies, called her detention "a positive step." She described Mubarak, who earned her bachelor's and master's degrees at the American University in Cairo, as a "butterfly" who was "fond of her jewelry and clothes and her looks and plastic surgery." She said the former first lady used her connections to ban Saadawi's grassroots Egyptian Women's Union and consolidate her own power.

The public prosecutor on April 13 ordered the former president detained as part of an investigation of charges of abuse of public funds and the killing of protesters.

Timeline: Revolution in Egypt

Hassan is a news assistant in The Times' Cairo bureau.

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