Former Mubarak Minister to Face Egypt Corruption Trial

Ibrahim Soliman, who was minister between 1993 and 2005, is the second housing minister to face trial over several controversial real estate deals.

Haaretz
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Haaretz

Egypt's general prosecutor referred former Housing Minister Ibrahim Soliman and four of his deputies to trial for squandering public funds, the state news agency said on Wednesday.

Soliman, the second housing minister to face trial, was minister from 1993 to 2005 and has come under fire for his role in several controversial deals with real estate firms.

Protesters chant slogans as they march following an attack by security forces in Tahrir Square, in Cairo, Egypt on April 9, 2011Credit: AP

Magdi Rasekh, the father-in-law of ousted President Hosni Mubarak's eldest son Alaa and former board chairman at property developer SODIC, will also be referred for trial.

Rasekh stepped down from SODIC's board last week, adding to a list of resignations at property firms scrambling to distance themselves from the country's deposed president.

SODIC, Egypt's third-biggest property developer, says all its land deals have been fair and legal. No charges have been brought against the firm.

MENA said that according to the charges, Soliman gave unwarranted privileges to business executives, in violation of contracts and financial commitments, and enabled Rasekh to make 907.7 million Egyptian pounds ($153 million) profit in a single land purchase.

Soliman is further accused of relieving Rasekh from paying 13.8 million pounds in fees that would be due to the government. Rasekh was also given the right to sell a plot of land, in violation of regulations, the agency added.

News of Soliman's planned trial as several officials belonging to Mubarak's former regime, including the former president himself, were being questioned by Egypt's ruling military.

Earlier Wednesday, Egypt's ruling military council dismissed speculation it would pardon former President Hosni Mubarak, who is under investigation for graft and abuse of power, and said it does not interfere in judicial affairs.

Mubarak, 83, is detained in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh after officials said he had heart problems. His wife, Suzanne, who also fell ill when ordered detained, was freed on Tuesday after giving up assets but faces a graft probe.

The timing of their respective illnesses, which meant neither joined other top officials in jail, has fuelled talk that they were getting special treatment by the military.

"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces affirms that there is absolutely no truth in what was published by the media about the council moving to pardon the former president Hosni Mubarak and his family," it said in a communique on its Facebook page.

The council "does not intervene in any way in legal matters and particularly in holding to account symbols of the previous regime", it said, adding that legal steps were for the judiciary to handle and such "rumors" were aimed at dividing the nation.

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