Saturday,27 May, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1342, (27 April - 3 May 2017)
Saturday,27 May, 2017
Issue 1342, (27 April - 3 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

MP loses parliamentary membership

Parliament is expected to strip football player Sahar Al-Hawari of membership after she was sentenced to five years in jail

MP loses parliamentary membership
MP loses parliamentary membership

Sahar Al-Hawari, a former football player who is deputy chairman of parliament’s Youth and Sports Committee and a member of the board of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA), was sentenced to five years in jail on Sunday.

Al-Hawari was found guilty, alongside her two brothers Hazem, also a member of the EFA board, and Hatem, a businessman, of embezzling LE238 million from Banque du Caire.

On 23 April Alexandria’s Economic Crimes Court, headed by judge Amir Adli, said Al-Hawari and her two brothers had refused to repay LE238 million in loans secured from the Banque du Caire in 1998.

“The three defendants fraudulently and deceitfully failed to settle their debts,” said the court. “They forced Banque du Caire employees to issue a false report that they could not repay the loans because they had gone bankrupt.”

After sentencing Al-Hawari and her two brothers were moved to Alexandria’s Security Directorate on Sunday before being jailed the following day.

An Alexandria security official said Al-Hawari will serve her five-year sentence in the women’s prison of Damanhour while Hazem and Hatem will serve their terms in Alexandria’s Al-Hadra Prison.

Al-Hawari is reported to have spent her first night in jail “weeping all the time” according to an official, and appeared to be “suffering from a nervous breakdown”.

Al-Hawari and her brother Hazem resigned from the EFA on Sunday.

MPs said they regreted that one of their colleagues had been jailed. Independent MP Abdel-Moneim Al-Oleimi told Al-Ahram Weekly that “the verdict sends a signal to MPs that no one is above the law. They need to take care that personal business deals do not affect their parliamentary membership and roles.”

Bahaaeddin Abu Shokka, head of parliament’s Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, told reporters on Monday that the committee would meet to discuss the verdict against Al-Hawari once parliament is officially notified of the court ruling.

“Al-Hawari still has the right to appeal but this does not mean that she and her two brothers will not be put in jail,” said Abu Shokka.

Al-Oleimi, who is also a member of the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, explained that “criminal procedures law dictates that verdicts such as that against Al-Hawari must be implemented at once even if the defendants still have the right to appeal before the court of cassation.”

Al-Hawari was arrested after being stripped of parliamentary immunity last month. “The committee approved, on Al-Hawari’s own request, that she be stripped of immunity on 28 March. This paved the way for her arrest,” said Al-Oleimi.

Abu Shokka says parliament must be officially notified of the Al-Hawari verdict within three days. “Once the notification is sent to the speaker it will be referred to the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee for discussion.”

“In accordance with Article 384 of parliament’s internal bylaws and Article 110 of the constitution it is up to the committee to decide whether the verdict means Al-Hawari has lost the trust of parliament.”

“If the committee decides Al-Hawari should be stripped of membership, it will recommend this to the House. To be effective it must be endorsed by two thirds of MPs.”

An internal ballot will now be held to elect a new deputy chairman of the Youth and Sports Committee.

“If stripped of membership Al-Hawari will most likely be replaced by a party list candidate from Alexandria,” says constitutional law expert Salah Fawzi.

“She ran as a candidate on the Support Egypt list and so will be replaced by the candidate who came next to her in terms of votes.”

Fawzi noted that “shady business deals had led many MPs to lose their membership of parliament.”

“In the second half of the 1990s many businessmen, including the Al-Hawari family, were able to borrow from public sector banks — especially Banque du Cairo — without offering adequate collateral. Some of them later fled the country while others resorted to fraud in order to evade repaying the debts.”

The current House of Representatives has so far stripped two MPs of membership. The first — TV anchor Tawfik Okasha — lost his membership in March 2016 after he met with the Israeli ambassador to Egypt without parliament’s prior approval. The second, independent MP Anwar Al-Sadat, was dismissed after being judged guilty of leaking secret information to international bodies.

Parliament accepted the resignation of Sirri Siam, a former judge, in February 2016.

Fakhri Tayel, the son of former MP and banker Abdallah Tayel, will replace Al-Sadat after winning the Talla seat in a 20 April by-election.

Mohamed Abdel-Hadi Selim replaces Ali Al-Moselhi who resigned from parliament after he was named minister of supply and internal trade in February.

Tayel and Selim are expected to be sworn in as new MPs this week.

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