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Egypt court grants final acquittal to Mubarak-era oil minister over Israel gas deal

Ahram Online , Thursday 27 Oct 2016
Sameh Fahmy
File Photo:Former Egypt's oil minister, Sameh Fahmy (Photo: Reuters)

An Egyptian appeals court on Thursday acquitted a Mubarak-era oil minister of charges of selling under-priced gas to Israel and squandering public funds in a final ruling in the case, a judicial source told Ahram Online.

Sameh Fahmy was initially convicted in 2012 and sentenced to 15 years in jail; he was acquitted in February 2015 while being retried, but the prosecution appealed the ruling.

The Court of Cassation, the country's highest appellate court for general jurisdiction cases, rejected the appeal on Thursday and found Fahmy, along with five other petroleum ministry officials, innocent of the charges.

Fahmy was first arrested in April 2011. He was released after securing a retrial in 2013.

The sale of gas to Israel has long raised controversy in Egypt. Prosecutors have argued that Hosni Mubarak's government sold gas at preferential rates to Israel and other countries, costing Egypt billions of dollars in lost revenue.

Egypt was selling natural gas to Israel under a 20-year agreement at the time of the 2011 revolution, but the deal was halted in April 2012 after continuous attacks on the pipeline by militants in the Sinai Peninsula.

Several Mubarak-era figures, including the ousted president himself, have been convicted of corruption-related offences, and then subsequently acquitted on retrial.

In November 2014, Mubarak and his interior minister Habib El-Adly were found innocent of charges of killing peaceful protesters during the 2011 uprising that toppled him.

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