Mubarak was due to appear before Egypt's prosecutor-general for questioning in the coming days [GALLO/GETTY]

Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president, has been questioned in hospital by prosecutors at the Red Sea port of Sharm el-Sheikh, where he has been staying since he was ousted from power by a popular uprising on February 11.

Mubarak, 82, was taken to an intensive care unit on Tuesday after suffering heart problems when he was being questioned during an investigation, state television reported.

It did not give further details about his health or about the investigation.

Asked if Mubarak was in good health, Mohammed Fathallah, the hospital's director, replied: "Somewhat."

Reporting from Cairo, Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr said: "He has been under house arrest in Sharm el-Sheikh ever since he was ousted from power.

"We are still not sure of what condition he is in, but the former president has been complaining that he's been unwell for some time now."

Egyptian security officials told the Associated Press news agency that Mubarak arrived under heavy police protection at the hospital, which was picketed by pro-democracy activists.

Refusal to eat or drink

Mubarak reportedly refused to eat or drink anything over the course of Tuesday, and while he was able to walk to the hospital from his car, that walk was described by state television as "faltering".

He has kept a low profile since he stepped down from the presidency, but released an audio message earlier this week saying that he would co-operate fully with the prosecutor general's investigations into allegations of corruption committed by himself and family members.

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Mubarak had been expected to be questioned by investigators for the first time on Tuesday in connection with corruption allegations and violence against protesters during the uprising.

Mohammed el-Guindi, the Egyptian justice minister, said in a statement that Mubarak was questioned at the hospital regarding the violence against protesters.

He said the investigation into corruption allegations would be undertaken by his ministry's anti-corruption department at a later date.

The public prosecutor issued the summons on Sunday.

Al Jazeera's Khodr said: "Mubarak was supposed to travel to Cairo to be questioned about his wealth, about his assets, by the prosecutor-general here, but he said that he was unable to travel.

"Now this has been a demand of the pro-democracy protesters here in Egypt for the prosecution of the president, as well as high-ranking members of the former regime, in order to hold them accountable for what they believe was the amassing of billions of dollars of wealth."

Activists sceptical

Mubarak has a history of illnesses, and while in power would routinely travel to Germany for check-ups.

He had suffered from a number of health problems and had undergone gallbladder surgery in the days leading up to the end of his rule.

 


Georgetown University's Samer Shehata speaks to Al Jazeera on Mubarak's 'hospitalisation' and questioning

"Definitely this news will not be welcomed by pro-democracy protesters, this is what many of them actually feared, that the president will not be tried, will not be held accountable for his actions over recent decades. And definitely, a lot of them will be sceptical - they will wonder whether or not he is really sick," our correspondent said.

She said that many pro-democracy activists were "ridiculing" Mubarak's hospitalisation, and were of the opinion that the timing of his admission to hospital was not coincidental.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Samer Shehata, a professor of Egyptian and Arab politics at Georgetown University in Washington DC, said: "It is certainly convenient that he's been admitted to the hospital right now.

"I would say that the credibility of this particular deposed individual is really minus ten."

Hossam el-Hamalawry, an Egyptian pro-democracy activist, told Al Jazeera that "[he] feel[s] that [he's]watching a ridiculous soap opera that has been dragging on now, and directed by the miltiary junta, for more than two months".

"I think the demands of the revolutionaries and the millions of Egyptians who took to the streets since the start of the uprising has been to put Hosni Mubarak on trial. Not just for financial corruption ... but for the murder of protesters and for treason," he said.

Mubarak's sons detained

Meanwhile, prosecutors ordered the detention on Wednesday of Mubarak's powerful sons for 15 days as allegations of corruption and the abuse of their authority are investigated.

Gamal Mubarak and his business brother Alaa were driven away in a police van with drawn curtains as an angry crowd of 2,000 people pelted it with water bottles, stones and their flip-flops, a sign of disrespect in the Arab world.

"Brothers, whatever you wanted, you have got ... 15 days," said Major-General Mohammed el-Khatib, the head of provincial security in the South Sinai.

Gamal, Mubarak's younger son, was a senior official in the ruling party and was widely seen as being groomed to succeed his father before popular protests brought down the regime. 

His increasing role in the government over the last decade and the belief that he might succeed his father helped galvanise Egypt's protest movement.

At least 800 people are estimated to have been killed during the protests as police opened fire on the crowds. Authorities are now investigating government officials for their role in ordering the violence.

Gamal is also believed to be the architect of Egypt's privatisation programme and economic liberalisation, which has brought in billions in foreign investment but has also widened the gap between rich and poor.

Many of his close associates were billionaires and held senior positions in the ruling party and the government. There are allegations that they used their positions for personal gain.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies