CAIRO: Two officials from the Ministry of Agriculture were found guilty of importing cancerous pesticides into the Egyptian market, bribery, and squandering public money.
One MP told Daily News Egypt the two should have received a death sentence.
Last Thursday, the Cairo Criminal Court found agriculture officials Youssef Abdel-Rahman and Randa Al-Shamy guilty of 16 charges; chief among them is knowingly approving the import of 85 tons of cancerous pesticides to Egypt.
Abdel-Rahman, former deputy minister of agriculture and chairman of the agricultural bourse – which is responsible for defining prices of crops in Egypt – was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Randa Al-Shamy, formerly a technical consultant in the agricultural bourse, got seven years.
They “deserve to have been convicted with a death sentence because their crimes could lead to the death of Egyptian citizens, said Gamal Zahran, independent member in the People’s Assembly (PA).
The court ruling also stipulates the two be terminated from their respective positions at the ministry.
They were also found guilty of bribery, intentionally using their official positions for personal gain, and squandering public money, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.
“This is not a new verdict. The verdict was issued before, but this trial was meant to verify that the act of importing the toxic material was carried out intentionally and that the two were fully aware [of the health hazards], Zahran said, adding that the sentences handed down were the least “those two criminals should get.
According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, the court also sentenced Mohamed Fathi El-Sayed Makled, a researcher in the Central Lab for Pesticides, and Imam Abdel-Mobdi Abdel-Rahim Al-Sayed, professor of chemistry in Cairo University’s faculty of agriculture, to three years in prison.
A number of other researches and officials were served three-year jail sentences and fines for taking part in the matter.
Two officials were found innocent: Hisham Mohamed Afifi, manager of the administration to combat insects in the general agency for agriculture reform, and Ihab Al-Sayed Mohmed Abdullah, an employee in the agriculture sectors.
“The former Minister of Agriculture is also responsible for the crimes Abdel-Rahman and Al-Shamy were convicted of, and he too should have been tried and charged in the case, Zahran said.
Along with two MPs, Zahran said he is currently working on a draft law that would enable parliament to charge and try top officials, ministers and even the president of the country if are involved in any crime.
“No one is above the law and there is nothing in the Egyptian constitution that says legislative powers are not allowed to question ministers and the president, and charge them if they commit any crimes, Zahran said.