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Sep 20th
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Former Egyptian dictator Mubarak on life support

REPORTS from Cairo say former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is critically ill and may be close to death.

Some media reports say he is clinically dead, with Nile TV saying attempts are continuing to revive him.

The 84-year-old is said to have had a stroke, and was moved from prison to life support in an army hospital.

Mubarak was removed in last year's uprising, and jailed for life earlier this month for his role in the death of protesters before his removal.

There have been frequent reports since then that his health has deteriorated, many of which have proved wrong.

The news comes as tens of thousands of people protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square against a move by the ruling military council to assume new powers.

The rally was called by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is also claiming victory for its candidate Mohammed Mursi in last weekend's presidential elections.

His rival Ahmed Shafiq, a former prime minister under Mubarak, has also said he has won.

Results are expected to be announced on Thursday.

Protesters in Tahrir Square are closely following reports about Mubarak's condition

The Muslim Brotherhood has also vowed to retry Mubarak once in power, and insists that he should face the death penalty.

As Egyptians voted, the generals dissolved parliament and claimed all legislative power for themselves.

Activists have described the moves as a "military coup".

On Tuesday, Mubarak - who ruled Egypt for 30 years - was transferred by helicopter to intensive care at the Maadi armed forces hospital after suffering a stroke, state media said.

The hospital is said to be better equipped to deal with such conditions than the prison hospital where he was being treated.

The former leader is now said to be unconscious and on life support.

Doctors are said to have used a defibrillator on him several times. The device delivers an electric shock to the heart to try to re-establish a normal heartbeat.

Egyptians will however be very sceptical about any reports about the former president's health.

Before Mubarak's trial began, his lawyer said he was in a coma, only for the former president to appear - alive and conscious, if not particularly well - in court.

Now there will be fears that the state of Mubarak's health could be used as a distraction, as Egypt waits for the result of the hotly disputed presidential election.BBC