Tora Farm, a two-story block of poured concrete that once housed enemies of ousted Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, now holds his sons Gamal Mubarak, known as prisoner No. 23, and his older brother, the business leader Alaa, known as prisoner No. 24. Neither has yet been arrested or charged -- although they are expected to stand trial, they are only under investigation. While Mubarak himself is currently at a military hospital, if his health improves, he will be expected to join his sons at Tora Farm.
As Egypt both exults in the success of its revolution and struggles with its recovery, the New York Times looks at the fates of the two princes formerly in power.
They make docile inmates, their captors say, still stunned to find themselves behind bars. They eat food brought from outside, the right of any detainee who has not been convicted. But Gamal appears badly shaken and often refuses to eat. He shares a cell with Alaa.
“Bear in mind they are very broken,” said a prison official who described the situation inside and spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “They do everything they are asked. They don’t raise their voices.”
While there is much curiosity as to what a county does with its dictators once they are no longer in power, there is little sympathy to be spared for Mubarak and his sons. Egyptian newspapers offer voyeuristic details of their imprisonment (they have two beds, a television without satellite, they wear white track suits, etc.) to a public eager to hear of their punishment.
Still, it seems that for some Egyptians, revenge is not so sweet. While rage drove Egyptians to revolt, some find that there is an ugliness in reveling in the suffering of the prisoners, even while justice is being served.
“I am not sure that this in itself is going to make us move forward, because so far we have not moved forward, we have been walking with our heads backwards, looking to the past, talking about what happened, putting people on trial,” said Mohamed Salmawy, a novelist and head of the writers union. “I feel bad about the feeling that is growing in me, this rejoicing about how this guy was caught or that guy is now in prison.”