CAIRO - Hosni Mubarak's fall from grace has culminated in incarceration in the Cairo prison that housed leading political dissidents of his era - a twist of fate that some of them have called "divine justice".
Mubarak, 84, spent his third day in Tora Prison on Tuesday, serving the first days of a life sentence handed to him on Saturday by a judge who ruled he was at least partly to blame for the deaths of hundreds of Egyptians killed in the uprising that removed him from power in February last year.
Unimaginable 16 months ago, Mubarak's detention at Tora is a historic moment for both Egypt and the region, even though it has been partly eclipsed by controversy over the verdict. Ayman Nour, a politician held at the same jail for four years by the Mubarak administration, said "God's justice" had been served.
Reflecting a popular, bordering on morbid fascination with Mubarak's fate, Egypt's best-selling newspapers are brimming with reports detailing the former leader's first days in the prison's hospital wing.
Mubarak's wife, Suzanne, visited him on Monday, accompanied by the wives of his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, both of whom have been detained since investigations into separate corruption allegations against them got under way last year. Mubarak had been held at a military hospital during his trial.
"They brought me here to kill me," Mubarak told Suzanne, according to the front page of Al Masry Al Youm, quoting unnamed sources. "In Tora, Suzanne screams: Don't forget Mubarak is a hero of the October war," declared Al-Youm Al-Sabie, another daily, also citing an anonymous source and referring to the 1973 war against Israel.
"The media are competing for who has the juiciest story on what happened to Mubarak," said Hisham Kassem, a publisher and political commentator. "The competition between the media is over that, not over the implications of it," he said.
Mubarak and Habib el-Adli, his former interior minister, were sentenced to life on Saturday for what the judge described as a failure to stop the killing during the uprising that erupted on January 25, 2011 and ended 18 days later when the former president stepped down and handed power to the army.
The charges had been stronger: that Mubarak and other top officials had ordered the killing. But the judge said the evidence presented was not strong enough to indicate official instructions were given, leading to the acquittal of top security officials and triggering anger in the streets.