CAIRO: Egyptian authorities charged Wednesday one of deposed leader Hosni Mubarak’s most trusted men with corruption, while placing Mubarak’s last prime minister on an airport watch list so that he would be questioned upon returning to the country.
Safwat Sherif, who served as the information minister for nearly two decades, joins a long list of other former Mubarak cronies – businessmen, ministers and others – to face trial over alleged corruption.
The illicit gains branch of the Justice Ministry charged Sherif with using his position to illegally acquire villas, lands and apartments owned by the state. It also accused him of receiving gifts worth millions of Egyptian pounds from chief editors in the state media in return for keeping them in their posts, as well as taking bribes from advertising and media companies in return for privileges.
The Justice Ministry demanded Sherif, along with his two sons who also face similar charges, pay back 600 million Egyptian pounds ($100 million) to the state. No date has been set yet for the trial.
Sherif, who also served as the secretary-general of the now-dissolved former ruling National Democratic Party as well as the speaker of the upper house of parliament, is already on trial in another case on charges of collaborating in the orchestration of attacks on peaceful protests during the 18-day uprising.
Also Wednesday, authorities placed on an airport watch list Shafiq, who served as Mubarak’s last prime minister before narrowly losing Egypt’s first free presidential election after the uprising to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammad Mursi.
Shafiq, who flew to the United Arab Emirates after Mursi was announced the presidential winner in June, is accused of illegally allocating large swaths of lands to Mubarak’s two sons, who also have been detained pending trial on different charges.
Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison in June for complicity in the killings of some 850 protesters during last year’s 18-day uprising. He is serving his sentence in a prison hospital on Cairo’s outskirts.
A Cairo court Wednesday sentenced a top security official who was in charge of communications at the Interior Ministry to two years in prison for erasing CDs carrying recordings of phone calls between Mubarak and his security officers during the uprising.
The CDs could have been used as evidence regarding who gave orders to shoot protesters in the streets.
The court said that Gen. Hussein Moussa had deleted the contents of the CDs. He claimed the erasure had been accidental.