CAIRO – The dismissal of the murder case against toppled President Hosni Mubarak over the killing of protesters during Egypt's 2011 uprising has sparked muted and scattered protests, but what does it mean for the Arab world's most populous country? Here's a look:
Q: WILL MUBARAK WALK FREE?
A: Mubarak is serving a three-year prison term on corruption charges after being convicted in May. He has been detained since April 2011. It's not clear whether the past 3 ½ years would be treated as time served.
Q: DID THE JUDGE ABSOLVE MUBARAK OF THE KILLINGS?
A: Judge Mahmoud al-Rashidi dismissed the case on a technicality, saying Mubarak's referral to prosecution ignored an earlier decision by prosecutors not to try him. Al-Rashidi did, however, find Mubarak's security chief and six of his top aides not guilty on charges of ordering the killings, a ruling that implicitly absolves Mubarak.
Q: CAN THIS BE APPEALED?
A: Yes, prosecutors can appeal to Egypt's Court of Cassation, the country's highest legal authority.
Q: SO WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR KILLING THE NEARLY 900 PROTESTERS WHO DIED IN 2011?
A: Already some 170 police officers and security officials have been put on trial but they were acquitted either over lack of evidence or because they acted in self-defense. However, numerous videos clearly show police shooting at protesters, running them over in police trucks and punching and kicking them.
Q: HOW WILL THIS DECISION AFFECT EGYPT?
A: It depends on who you asks. The pro-government media insists the ruling was not political and based entirely on available evidence. They say the dismissal isn't an attempt by the current president, former military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, to exonerate Mubarak's rule. The media backing el-Sissi also says the ruling is proof that the 2011 uprising was a conspiracy engineered by local agents hired by the West, as opposed to the "true" demonstrations by millions who demanded that Islamist President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood step down before the military led by el-Sissi toppled him in July 2013. The Brotherhood likely will say the ruling shows el-Sissi is a thinly disguised extension of Mubarak's ousted government. It also only fuels the alienation of the secular and liberal youth groups behind the 2011 uprising, already targeted in a harsh government crackdown on dissent.
Q: HOW DID EGYPT RESPOND TO THE RULING?
A: With security and the ailing economy the chief concerns for most Egyptians, interest in the Mubarak trial has significantly waned. Several thousand protested Saturday night near Cairo's Tahrir Square, birthplace of the 2011 uprising. Security forces later broke up the demonstration. The Health Ministry said two protesters were killed and at least 10 were wounded. Small protests also took place Sunday.
Q: WHAT DOES EL-SISSI SAY ABOUT IT?
A: El-Sissi consistently has praised in public the uprisings in 2011 and against Morsi. His office issued a statement Sunday saying it could not comment on court rulings, though he would ask officials to compensate and care for the families of the dead protesters.