The wife of ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, was in intensive care today after suffering severe chest pains when she heard the news that she had been arrested over corruption claims.
The director of the hospital in the Red Sea resort community of Sharm el-Sheikh, where her husband has also been admitted to hospital, said Suzanne Mubarak had a heart problem and was in an unstable condition.
The detention order came a day after the 70-year-old former first lady was questioned for the first time since she was accused of taking advantage of her husband’s position to enrich herself.
The Mubaraks and other members of the former regime have been the subject of legal efforts to bring them to trial since the ex-president was ousted on February 11 after a popular uprising.
A security official said Mrs Mubarak would remain in the hospital for the time being but was expected to be moved to a women’s prison in Cairo.
Once a low-key first lady known for her focus on women and children rights, Mrs Mubarak had in the last decade become known as a powerful mover in Egyptian politics.
She was believed to be a strong backer of her son Gamal’s efforts to succeed his father as well as another son Alaa’s business activities.
She was known to have a say in the promotion of senior officials and liked to be called Hanem, or Madam, as institutions and schools carrying her name mushroomed in recent years.
Mrs Mubarak’s detention order came as thousands of Egyptians returned to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 18-day uprising that led to her husband’s demise.
The protesters were rallying in solidarity with Palestinians and condemned recent Muslim-Christian violence that killed 15 Egyptians.
Many accuse former regime loyalists of fanning sectarian tension and warned of a new sit-in at the square, criticising the current military rulers for being too slow in uprooting old regime figures, changing laws and upholding promised democratic reforms.
Last night the military rulers issued a stern warning that they would crack down on what they called “deviant groups”, which they blamed for an increase in crime and violence.
In apparent response to pressure from protesters, the military rulers said they would release demonstrators who had been detained without trial over the last two months and reconsider the sentences of those who had been convicted.
Mrs Mubarak was ordered to be detained pending an investigation into claims that she and her husband amassed vast wealth, the state news agency MENA reported.
It said she was asked about 20 million Egyptian pounds held in her name in one of the Cairo banks as well as a number of luxury villas.
Mrs Mubarak was interrogated at the hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh where her 83-year old husband, who also suffers from heart problems, has been held. Her husband has been questioned several times.
When she was told Friday that she would be detained for 15 days for further questioning, she fainted, said the hospital’s director, Dr Mohammed Fatahallah. He later said she apparently had suffered from unstable angina – severe chest pains.
He added it was the first indication of health troubles shown by Mrs Mubarak, who has been by her husband’s side at the hospital.
In the early days of Mubarak’s nearly 30-year presidency, Mrs Mubarak had limited herself to domestic charity activities. She later expanded to international causes, including human trafficking of women and children.