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Ahram gifts court session resumes

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Prosecution ends travel bans of defendants who paid back gifts they received from Al-Ahram

Public prosecutors have decided on Tuesday to unfreeze funds belonging to 13 former regime officials whom allegedly received them as a gift from the Al-Ahram newspaper.

Twenty-six former regime officials are being tried for receiving illegal gifts from the chairmen of the board of directors of the state-owned Al-Ahram institution. The defendants include former President Hosni Mubarak, his wife, their two children and their wives.

During the case’s second session at the Cairo Criminal Court, public funds prosecutor Mohamed Al-Naggar stated that 13 defendants have paid the worth of gifts they are accused of having received, reported state-owned Al-Ahram.

The 13 defendants include former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, former Peoples’ Assembly Speaker Ahmed Fathi Sorour, former Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mofeed Shehab, former Minister of Health Hatem Al-Gabaly, former Minister of Interior Habib Al-Adly and parliament Secretary General Sami Mahran.

The names of the 13 defendants have been taken off the travel ban lists, and the freeze on their funds has been lifted.

Sorour’s lawyer had claimed the former speaker of parliament had actually made a museum out of these gifts and did not use them himself.

Al-Naggar stated during Tuesday’s session that Mubarak’s sons Gamal and Alaa granted the public prosecution permission to withdraw the sum of money they are accused of having received in the form of gifts, alongside that of their parents and their wives, reported Al-Ahram. The sum of money is worth EGP 18m. Prosecutors are awaiting verification of Gamal Mubarak’s signature on the permission before withdrawing the funds.

The case was postponed until the Mubarak family pays back their share of the gifts, reported Al-Ahram.

Former chairmen of the board of directors of Al-Ahram institution Ibrahim Nafie, Morsi Attallah, Abdel Moneim Sa’eed and Salah Al-Ghamry are all accused of illegally using public money. The four chairmen have distributed among high ranking officials gifts worth EGP 187m, said Al-Naggar. Al-Ahram reported only EGP 27m have been returned to the state treasury thus far.

Until now, former presidential chief of staff Zakariya Azmy and former Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghaly haven’t paid back any amount of the sum demanded of them. Former Shura Council head Safwat Al-Sherif only returned EGP 250,000 of the sum demanded of him.

The public funds prosecution’s report stated that former Al-Ahram chairman Ibrahim Nafie had started the tradition of giving expensive gifts to high ranking officials back in 1984, and his successors continued it up until the revolution in January 2011.

Al-Ahram has been facing financial difficulties for the past eight years and currently owes EGP 1.6bn in taxes.

Additional reporting by Ahmed Aboul Enein


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