CAIRO: The Cairo Criminal Court on Tuesday pronounced MP Hany Sorour, owner of Hidelina company, innocent of charges that he distributed defective blood bags to public hospitals, according to Dr Abdel Rahman Shahin, spokesperson at the Ministry of Health.
Six others accused in the case were also exonerated: Dr Helmi Salah Al-Din, general manager of the blood affairs department at the Ministry of Health, Dr Mohamed Wagdan, chairman of the technical center in Hidelina, Nivan Sorour, Hany Sorour’s sister and Hidelina board member, as well as three company employees, Wafaa Abdel Rahim, Ashraf Ishaq, and Fathia Ahmed Abdel Rahim.
Shahin told Daily News Egypt that the Ministry of Health will not comment on the verdict seeing that “the verdict was announced by a court of law and the Ministry of Health cannot have a say over a court order.
However, as Shahin stated, the Ministry of Health’s stand on the matter has been clear from the beginning. “The ministry has indicated that the defects found in Hidelina’s products were purely industrial and did not have any adverse effect on the health of the citizens who used them.
Minister of Health Hatem El-Gabaly announced in a press conference held after the controversy hit the news, that not “one single patient was found harmed by any means after receiving blood throughout my time as a minister.
The case went to court last summer when Ministry of Health employee Soheir El Sharkawi brought the issue to the public’s attention. She claimed to have found 200,000 defective bags used to package donated blood in the ministry’s storage.
The investigations conducted earlier by the general prosecutor revealed severe negligence in some departments of the Ministry of Health, notably the blood unit, the pharmaceutical department, and the National Center for Monitoring and Medical Research in public hospitals, which all come under the jurisdiction of the ministry.
The investigations prior to the court case, proved that there were violations in the license given to Sorour’s company to produce the blood bags.
Previous experience in the field was required, but the company was given the green light without fulfilling this provision.
Officials at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, who were also questioned during the investigation, said that the company had committed 18 industrial violations of Egyptian and international standards for manufacturing blood bags.
Last December, El-Gabaly testified in favor of Hidelina in court. The minister told the court that until now, there have been no reported cases of infections or death caused by infected blood bags.
The minister only answered 11 of the 25 questions posed by the defense, with the court overruling the 14 remaining questions. He refused to answer a question about his personal opinion on the integrity and ethics of health ministry officials who approved the usage of the blood bags in question. He said that questions concerning the officials should be directed to the administrative monitoring unit, which he said is the responsible body.
Last June, the Prosecutor General announced that investigations had found 16 Ministry of Health officials, who were initially arrested for suspected involvement in the case, innocent. Their names were removed from the list of those prohibited from leaving the country.
Hidelina was accused of producing 200,000 contaminated blood bags infected with bacteria and fungi likely to cause cancer and hepatitis.