Egypt’s prosecutor general has ordered the detention of former President Hosni Mubarak, ahead of an investigation into corruption and abuse allegations.Reports say Mr Mubarak, 82, is in hospital after reportedly suffering heart problems. His detention order will be in place for 15 days.
His sons Alaa and Gamal have also been detained amid allegations of corruption and violence, police say.
Mr Mubarak stood down in February after a popular uprising against his rule.
Since then, tens of thousands of protesters have staged weekly Friday protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
They want the ousted president put on trial for the deaths of protesters and alleged abuse of power during his 30-year rule.
Official records show that 360 people were killed during the protests, but rights groups put the figure at about 800 dead and hundreds more wounded.
Reports also say the general public is suspicious at the timing of Mr Mubarak’s heart problems and worried that ill-health, combined with old age, could prevent him from being tried.
A post on the prosecutor general’s Facebook page on Wednesday: “The prosecutor general orders the detention of former President Hosni Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa for 15 days pending investigation after the prosecutor general presented them with the current state of its ongoing investigations.”
The announcement came a day after Mr Mubarak had been admitted to hospital with heart problems, although reports indicated that he was well enough to undergo questioning.
The former Egyptian leader had been keeping a low profile in Sharm el-Sheikh, a Red Sea resort, after fleeing to his holiday villa there when he was overthrown.
Late on Tuesday, a crowd of about 2,000 people had gathered outside the hospital, demanding that the sons be arrested.
As a police van with drawn curtains took away the two brothers for questioning, the crowd pelted it with water bottles, stones and their flip-flops, the AP news agency reported.
On Wednesday morning the pair were transferred to Tora prison complex in Cairo, home to other fallen officials and some of the country’s most notorious political prisoners.
Speculation that the younger son, Gamal, was being groomed to take over from his father helped to galvanise Egypt’s protest movement.
Gamal, an investment banker, was a high-ranking member of President Mubarak’s ruling party. His close associates were billionaires and held top positions in the ruling party and the government.
Mr Mubarak, along with his sons and their wives, have been banned from leaving the country. The family’s assets have been frozen.
In a pre-recorded audio message on Sunday, he broke his silence of the last two months to say his reputation and that of his sons had been damaged and he would work to clear their names.
On Tuesday, Egyptian soldiers and police moved into Tahrir Square in Cairo and ended a sit-in by protesters demanding civilian rule and swifter prosecution of former officials.