Egypt will prepare Cairo's Torah prison hospital so it can receive ousted President Hosni Mubarak from the military hospital where he is now detained, an Interior Ministry official said on Sunday, an announcement that could help calm protests.
Protesters, who have clashed with police for four days demanding an end to military rule, have long complained the ruling generals have been sparing their former commander the humiliation of prison by keeping him in a military hospital.
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim "is holding a meeting with some parliamentarians ... In this meeting, he issued a decision that Torah prison would be prepared as soon as possible for the transfer of the former president," the ministry official told Reuters.
The comment followed a report on Al Jazeera television saying the minister had ordered the prison hospital be upgraded to receive Mubarak.
Mohamed Naguib, a ministry official in charge of prison affairs, told Egypt's al-Hayat television that Torah prison hospital would be ready for such a transfer in two months.
But he said the court trying Mubarak or the general prosecutor would have to give the order to move the former president to Torah prison, where other detained officials from Mubarak's era have been held.
The interior minister had earlier ordered ex-Mubarak officials and his political allies at Torah be split between five prisons, responding to protesters who accused the authorities of giving them special treatment by keeping them together at Torah.
The ministry official said moving those detained or jailed would happen within 48 hours.
Mubarak was admitted to hospital when he was first questioned last year. At first he was in a hospital on the Red Sea and was then moved to the military hospital on the outskirts of Cairo. At one stage in the debate over where he would go, officials said Torah prison was not fit to handle his case.
Those already detained in Torah prison include Mubarak's two sons, his former interior minister, several members of the cabinet and other top security officials and political allies. They are expected to be moved under the latest order.