Al-Ahram Weekly Online   3 - 9 March 2011
Issue No. 1037
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Mubarak heads the list

New names are being added daily to the list of former government officials charged with abuse of office and corruption, reports Mona El-Nahhas

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Anti-government protesters pray in Tahrir Square

Egypt's Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud issued an order on Monday confiscating the assets, including bank accounts, real estate holdings and stocks and shares, of former president Hosni Mubarak and members of his family and imposing a travel ban on them.

Egyptian banks were ordered to implement the order immediately, with the Cairo Appeals Court setting a date next Saturday to examine the order at the Cairo Criminal Court.

According to Adel El-Said, assistant prosecutor-general and spokesman for the state prosecution service, the order was made as a result of documents accusing the former president and his family of illegal enrichment during his time in office. One set of documents were filed by former MP Mustafa Bakri, with copies being sent to the bodies concerned for examination.

The Illicit Gains Authority, part of the Ministry of Justice, is investigating bank accounts in the name of the former president, his wife, his two sons, his daughters-in-law and his grandsons and granddaughters, who are legally minors.

Last week, Mahmoud asked Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit to request other countries to freeze the assets of former president Mubarak and his family, reportedly deposited in a number of banks abroad.

The Swiss government has announced that it is freezing accounts held by Mubarak and his family in Switzerland that are thought to contain millions of Swiss francs and that it is investigating possible further assets.

Reports circulating about Mubarak's personal wealth following his ouster in the Egyptian revolution have put his wealth at up to $70 billion.

A number of businessmen and former ministers are also being investigated, many of them now remanded in custody in Torah Prison, with the Cairo Criminal Court backing an earlier order issued by Mahmoud on Monday that confiscated property and froze bank assets.

The order had been issued as a precautionary measure pending investigation of alleged corruption and the looting of billions of dollars of public funds levelled at officials including former tourism minister Zoheir Garana, former information minister Anas El-Fiqi, former housing minister Ahmed El-Maghrabi, former trade and industry minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid, the head of the Radio and TV Union Osama El-Sheikh, the chairman of the board of the newspaper Akhbar Al-Yom Mohamed Ahdi Fadli, the former secretary for organisational affairs of the former ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) Ahmed Ezz, the head of the Industrial Development Authority Amr Asal, and a number of Egyptian and Arab businessmen.

Garana and El-Maghrabi are due to appear before the Cairo Criminal Court on Sunday, with Rachid, Ezz and Asal summoned to appear on Tuesday. The prosecution of former interior minister Habib El-Adli, charged with money laundering and profiteering, will start on Saturday.

El-Adli was interviewed by state prosecutors for more than 10 hours last Monday, and in addition to charges of illegal enrichment, he also faces charges of ordering the security services to use live ammunition against demonstrators on Friday 28 January, killing dozens of protesters.

The former minister is also charged with releasing criminals from the country's prisons on the same day in order to create chaos, while at the same time deliberately evacuating police from the streets. El-Adli has been remanded in custody in Torah Prison for a further two weeks while investigations are carried out.

In his defence, El-Adli has said that the orders he issued while interior minister reflected the policies of the ministry at the time. He had given the orders after receiving reports that criminals had infiltrated the demonstrations, intending to commit acts of sabotage, he said.

He denied giving orders to use live ammunition against the demonstrators, telling prosecutors that he had ordered tear gas to be used to disperse protesters. Those who had used live ammunition should bear personal responsibility for doing so, El-Adli said.

However, for their part the former assistants to the minister who were also questioned by the prosecution said that they had only been implementing the minister's orders. According to their accounts, anyone not carrying out El-Adli's orders had been threatened with dismissal.

Commenting on the cases, El-Said said that the results of the investigations would be announced to the public and suspects referred for trial as soon as the investigations were over.

El-Adli has been criticised by human rights organisations for years for allegedly allowing the torture of detainees in police stations and prisons, causing the deaths of an unspecified number of people.

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