Egypt: Mubarak’s sons, PM acquitted of corruption.
An Egyptian court on Thursday acquitted former leader Hosni Mubarak’s two sons and his last prime minister of corruption charges, a verdict announced just hours after security forces arrested a prominent activist as part of an intensifying crackdown against icons of the nation’s 2011 uprising.
The Cairo criminal court found Gamal and Alaa Mubarak and Ahmed Shafiq innocent of corruption in a case that arose from the 1995 sale of a plot of land to Mubarak’s sons by an association led at the time by the former prime minister. Prosecutors claim the land was sold to the two at a price lower than its market value and were given a larger plot than what was stated in the contract.
Also acquitted were four retired generals who served as board members of the association.
Alaa, a wealthy businessman, and Gamal, his father’s one-time heir apparent, are facing a separate trial on other corruption charges. They have been held in detention since April 2011, two months after their father resigned in the face of a popular uprising.
A small group of Mubarak supporters in the courtroom cheered the verdict. “Oh Gamal Mubarak, the presidency awaits you,” they chanted.
Shafiq, a career air force officer like Mubarak, has lived in exile abroad since he was narrowly defeated by Islamist Mohammed Morsi in a presidential runoff in June 2012. Security officials at Cairo’s airport say Thursday’s verdict repeals standing instructions that Shafiq must be arrested on arrival at any of the country’s entry ports, clearing the way for his return. It is not clear whether Shafiq plans to resume his involvement in politics.
A statement by the court said that the irregularity committed by Mubarak’s sons and Shafiq is no more than an “administrative violation” that is not criminal. It also said that Alaa and Gamal Mubarak have given back the plot. It did not say whether the two could face any other penalties.
Morsi was toppled in a popularly backed military coup on July 3 and is on trial for inciting murder while awaiting a separate trial on charges of conspiring with foreign militant groups. Mubarak was sentenced to life in 2012 for failing to stop the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that ended his 29-year rule. He was acquitted on appeal and is now being retried.
The airport officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.
Meanwhile, authorities arrested Mohammed Adel of April 6, one of several youth movements that led the 2011 uprising.