High Judicial Court in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
The first defendant was also fined EGP 500,000 ($26,000).
However, the court exempted from punishment two other men involved in the case, including the hospital owner, after they cooperated and confessed to the crime.
According to the prosecution, the first defendant, Mohamed El-Ashaab, a specialist at an insurance company, demanded an EGP 5 million bribe and accepted a down payment of EGP 600,000 from the owner of the private hospital in exchange for reversing a decision to shut down the facility, which was operating without license.
The second defendant, Mohamed Beheiry, the general manager for licensing non-governmental medical institutions at the Egyptian health ministry, prepared a report falsely asserting the lack of any violations at the hospital, according to the prosecution.
The investigation into the case dates back to October 2021, and the country's public prosecution ordered the referral of the four defendants to trial in December 2021.
The case involved 13 witnesses who testified to the bribery attempt, including the two hospital owners, who cooperated with the prosecution until the defendants were arrested.
The prosecution found evidence of the crime in the form of conversations on the defendants’ seized phones, it said in a previous statement.
The prosecution also reviewed all hospital inspection reports, both authentic and forged, and bank documents that prove the bribe was paid.
Today's verdict is not final and can be appealed before the Court of Cassation.
The case made headlines over the past several months and stirred controversy, as the first defendant, El-Ashaab, a former parliamentarian, was previously married to Health Minister Zayed and is the father of her son.
The investigation into the case coincided with Zayed delegating her duties as a health minister to Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar late in October.
At the time, the health ministry said that Zayed suffered from a heart attack and was hospitalised.
Although Zayed reportedly left the hospital shortly after the incident, she has not resumed her duties and the Cabinet has not issued any official statements about her future as minister.
Minister Abdel-Ghaffar has since acted as the country's health minister alongside his duties as minister of higher education.