CAIRO: A journalist has been fined LE 15,000 after being found guilty of defaming an Egyptian steel magnate.
Al-Dostour journalist Mohamed Barakat was convicted on Sunday by the Giza Misdemeanors Court which found that the article penned by Barakat in September 2008 defamed Ahmed Ezz, president of Ezz Steel and head of the ruling National Democratic Party’s planning and budget committee.
In the article Barakat compared Ezz to businessman Hisham Talaat Moustafa, who was recently sentenced to death for his involvement in the murder of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim. According to the state-controlled MENA news agency, Ezz – in addition to alleging that the comparison with Moustafa was defamatory – objected to the article because it suggested that Ezz was involved in parliamentary election fraud and monopoly practices.
Ezz is seeking LE 100,000 compensation in a civil case, MENA reported.
Barakat, who plans to appeal the verdict, is unrepentant, telling Daily News Egypt “I don’t regret what I’ve written.
“I wrote that both of them hold the same position in Parliament and that they are trying to outdo each other. Ezz is the one and only in parliament, as he sees himself as a member of the new generation embodied by [head of the NDP’s policies committee] Gamal Mubarak while Moustafa represents the past or current age of Mubarak, Barakat explained.
“I don’t regret what I have written, as these are the facts and all of us can see it’s obvious, especially when the conflicts between Moustafa and Ezz have increased lately as each one of them represents the core of power in parliament.
Barakat suggested that Ezz wasn’t opposed to what he was written in the article so much as the possible harm it could do to his “work and position in the market adding that “he didn’t contradict what I’ve written as they are facts. -Additional reporting by Nehal Magdy.