Egyptian court postpones Talaat Moustafa Group hearing, sparks uproar

Reuters, Tuesday 4 Oct 2011

Chaos breaks out in the courtroom as a legal verdict on the developer's Madinaty project is pushed back yet again, with the case due to reconvene on 25 October

Grounds for dispute: a view of Madinaty so far (Photo: AFP)

An Egyptian court on Tuesday postponed a hearing over a case involving a land sale to the country's biggest listed developer that has rattled the property sector, sparking uproar among home-owners in the courtroom.

Talaat Moustafa Group's (TMG) US$3 billion Madinaty project, which makes up the bulk of its land holdings, has been caught in a legal dispute since last year over the purchase of land directly from the state instead of through a public auction.

After an initial court ruled to scrap the contract, the cabinet returned the land to TMG, arguing it was in the national interest.

But the fate of the new contract, now being contested in the court, has been unclear since an uprising swept out President Hosni Mubarak and his government on 11 February.

A judicial panel, whose advice is not binding, recommended against allowing a further legal challenge to the contract.

Investors and some home-owners in Madinaty, who fear they could lose property bought from TMG if the contract is scrapped again, were expecting a verdict on Tuesday.

Chaos broke out in the courtroom after the decision was postponed until 25 October , with home-owners demanding a verdict, witnesses said.

Police had to protect the person who brought the case, engineer Hamdy Fakharany, from angry home-owners by isolating him in a courtroom chamber, the witnesses added.

Shares in TMG were down 4 per cent by midday, compared to a 1.3 per cent drop for the main benchmark index .

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