Cairo, Apr 13: In an unprecedented step in the Arab world, Egyptian prosecutors today detained the country's ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons to face investigations on charges of corruption and abuse of power.
"Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal have been detained for 15 days for questioning on corruption and abuse of authority charges," official news agency MENA reported quoting a statement from the Justice Ministry.
The dramatic announcement came just hours after the former president, 82, was abruptly hospitalised in the beach resort of Sharm al-Shaikh.
Officials said, Mubarak took ill as prosecutors began questioning him about accusations.
The prosecutors' statement posted on the social networking site Facebook said ongoing investigations were going into allegations of "corruption, squandering of public funds and abuse of authority for personal gain".
The specific reasons for Mubarak's admission into the Sharm al-Shaikh international hospital was not clear, although media reports said he had heart problems. But Justice Minister Mohammad al-Guindi said questioning of the toppled President continued in hospital, in an indication that his health problems were not severe.
Mubarak and his family retreated to the Red Sea resort after he stepped down in the face of 18 days of protests and turmoil, that led to a clamour for reform in the entire Arab world from Tunisia to Egypt. The protests have since spread to Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria and elsewhere.
The arrest of Mubarak and his sons came under snowballing protests in Egypt to prosecute him. Tens of thousand of people have been rallying in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square calling for his trial.
The people's fury remained unabated as the crowds in Sharm al-Shaikh pelted a police van carrying Mubarak's two sons to prosecutor's office with water bottles and stones.
Mubarak arrest came despite his coming out of seclusion to appear on Al-Arabiya television to defend his reputation and deny that he and his family had abused power or had assets abroad.
After the Prosecutor General ordered their detention, Mubarak's two sons Alaa and Gamal were driven away in a police van with curtains drawn.
Gamal, the former president's younger son, was a senior official in the ruling party and was widely seen as being groomed to succeed his father, before popular uprising brought down the regime.
Al Jazeera reported that Mubarak's sons have been questioned for two days at a court house near Sharm al-Shaikh and were taken to capital Cairo today.
Gamal is believed to be the architect of Egypt's privatisation programme which brought in billions in foreign investments, but also widened the gulf between the rich and the poor.
Many of his close associates and cronies became billionaires overnight and held senior posts in the government, triggering allegations that they used their positions for personal gains.
At least 800 people are estimated to have been killed in popular uprising and the authorities are now investigating government officials for their role in ordering crackdowns.
The ouster of Mubarak is leading to rapid changes in the political scenario of the country.
With most of the leaders of the dominant National Democratic Party, now under detention, a former opposition MP Talat Sadat, nephew of the slain former president Anwar Sadat has been appointed the new Secretary General of the party.
The party has also changed its name to the New National Democratic Party. PTI