Egyptian Court Jails Mubarak’s Former Housing Minister for Corruption

Egypt's former Housing Minister Ahmed el-Maghrabi arrives at court in a police vehicle in north Cairo. Photo: Reuters

An Egyptian court has sentenced a former housing minister who served under ousted president Hosni Mubarak to five years in prison for involvement in an illegal land deal.

Egypt’s state-run news agency said Thursday the court found Ahmed Maghrabi guilty of wasting public funds and helping a businessman buy seven hectares of state land at below-market prices. The businessman, Mounir Ghabbour, received a one-year suspended sentence for his role in the same case.

Authorities have been carrying out a sweeping investigation of state land sales in Egypt’s lucrative property market since President Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising in February. Maghrabi is the third senior minister of Mubarak’s former government to be sentenced to jail for corruption.

The trials of former senior officials meet the demands of protesters who led the uprising and accused government officials of amassing wealth at the public’s expense.

Youth activists say they will return to Cairo’s streets on Friday for what they call a “Second Revolution” to press the interim military rulers to speed up the process of political reforms.

The activists are using social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to call for a massive turnout in Tahrir Square, the focal point of their February uprising.

The youth activists say the military-backed government is involving too many members of Mubarak’s ruling party in the reform process. The ruling military council says it welcomes the free expression of ideas but is against Friday’s planned demonstration.

Egypt’s chief prosecutor said Tuesday Mubarak and two of his sons will be tried on charges of wasting public funds and ordering the killings of anti-government activists during the February protests.

In recent weeks, authorities jailed Mubarak’s powerful interior minister Habib al-Adly for 12 years and his tourism minister Zuheir Garrana for five years on corruption charges.

-VOA News