Egypt Proceeds with Trying Top Officials for Corruption

Published November 8th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Egyptian courts have seen in one week trials for corruption of two top officials and other defendants, in what appears as a continuing campaign to eradicate the phenomenon.  

The corruption trial of a former senior official began Wednesday, with five of the seven co-defendants admitting to having bribed the man in exchange for a parcel of land, a judicial source told AFP. 

For his part, former Giza governor Maher Al Gindy told the state security court the accusations against him were "deceitful" and "contemptible,” the source said. 

A sixth defendant is charged only with covering up the offense, and a seventh denied guilt. 

The state security prosecutor has charged Gindy with "accepting one million Egyptian pounds (245 thousand dollars) as a bribe from a group of businessmen." 

The defendants include the son of a former prime minister and the board chairman of a tourism development company. 

The charge sheet said "the bribe was presented in exchange for granting the group a 52-hectare plot of land on the desert road between Cairo and Alexandria," the source said. 

Egypt does not have a formal plea bargaining system, said the agency, adding that Gindy could receive a life sentence with hard labor. 

A scuffle broke out in the courtroom after Gindy's son, Mohamed, a prosecutor by profession who attended the session as a spectator, struck an television cameraman who was trying to film the accused former governor in the cage in which defendants are held in Egyptian courtrooms. 

The judicial source said the photographer needed to be hospitalized, and that the prosecutor's office had arrested Mohamed and were preparing legal action. 

The public prosecutor has not tried to have bail denied to any of the eight defendants, the source added. 

The case has been adjourned until January. 

In a related recent development, an Egyptian court Monday ordered a former minister and five other senior officials to be held in jail as they face a corruption trial over millions of dollars in public funds.  

The higher state security court at a hearing in Cairo retracted bail on former finance minister Mohieddin Al Gharib and the other officials, placing them in jail until the end of the trial, which opened October 22.  

A total of 10 people are on trial, including the former head of Egyptian customs, Ali Taha Ali. They were arrested in June and four of them denied bail from the outset.  

The officials, accused of embezzling around 29.5 million pounds (seven million dollars, 7.7 million euros) between November 1999 and January 2000, have handed over an estimated 10.3 million pounds to the state.  

Gharib, 64, was finance minister from 1996 to 1999 in the government of former prime minister Kamal Al Ganzouri.  

The trial continues on November 11, when witnesses are to be heard.  

The verdict came one day after Egypt’s neighbor, Libya, also jailed a former finance minister for embezzlement – Albawaba.com 

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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