Saturday,25 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1391, (26 April - 2 May 2018)
Saturday,25 May, 2019
Issue 1391, (26 April - 2 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Geneina to appeal sentence

Egypt’s former top auditor has been sentenced to a five-year jail term for spreading false news, reports Mona El-Nahhas 

On 24 April a military misdemeanours court handed Hisham Geneina, former head of the Central Auditing Authority (CAA), a five-year sentence for spreading false news and distorting the image of the Armed Forces. 

Geneina’s eight-day trial upended on 16 April following two months of investigations conducted by the military prosecution. Geneina has been in custody since his arrest on 13 February. His lawyers say they had no prior access to the results of the investigation or the official indictment and were told the investigation papers would be available only after Geneina was referred to trial. 

Following the ruling Geneina’s defence team said they would appeal the verdict before a higher military court. 

Defence lawyer Ali Taha complains “we were not allowed to sit with our client or coordinate with him in any way” and notes that, though the circumstances surrounding the case were complex, the defence team was given just two days to review the case papers.

During the pleading session on 18 April Geneina’s lawyers argued his case does not fall under the jurisdiction of the military. They also contested the validity of the prosecution investigation and of their client’s detention. 

Lawyer Farid Al-Deeb joined the pleading session after consulting with Geneina’s family and lawyers. 

Al-Deeb represented former president Hosni Mubarak and former interior minister Habib Al-Adli in their trial for complicity in the murder of protesters during the 2011 uprising. Both Mubarak and Al-Adli were acquitted in 2014. 

According to Taha, Geneina had no advance knowledge that Al-Deeb would appear in court. 

“Although we differ politically with Al-Deeb we welcome his presence alongside us,” Taha said last week.

Interviewed by the Huffpost Arabi news website in February, Geneina claimed former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sami Anan was in possession of documents implicating the army in wrongdoing. Anan is currently being held in a military prison. 

According to Geneina, Anan deposited the documents outside Egypt. Geneina also warned they would be made public should Anan’s life be threatened. Geneina was part of Anan’s presidential election campaign before Anan was excluded from the race. 

During the military prosecution’s investigation Anan denied having the documents and asked his own lawyer to sue Geneina for libel.  

Anan faces charges of violating military rules by announcing his intention to run for the presidency before seeking the approval of the military authorities. He is also accused of forging official documents and inciting against the army. 

A statement issued by Military Spokesperson Tamer Al-Rifaai shortly before Geneina’s arrest said the claims made by Geneina were an attempt to incite the public against the state and its institutions. The Armed Forces, he said, would use all legal and constitutional means to safeguard national security and the army’s own reputation. 

The military prosecutor-general subsequently issued a warrant for Geneina’s arrest and on 12 April he was referred to a military trial. 

The military prosecution based its case against Geneina on Article 80 of the penal code which criminalises the intentional spreading of false news, statements and rumours which could weaken the state or harm national interests. Geneina’s lawyers argue the article is not applicable to their client’s case.

Geneina’s family earlier claimed he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a 27 January attack in which he was seriously wounded by assailants near his home. The family say any statements given by Geneina following the attack were made in a state of diminished responsibility. 

In passing sentence the court, say Geneina’s lawyers, did not take the defendant’s family’s statement into account.

Geneina, 61, was dismissed from the CAA in 2016 after saying in a televised interview that corruption had cost Egypt more than LE600 billion in recent years. 

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