CAIRO: Egyptian steel magnate Ahmed Ezz, who was a top official in ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s party and is now being investigated for graft, said on Tuesday charges against him were unfounded and he hoped for a fair trial.
Ezz, who quit the party during protests that erupted on Jan. 25, has been detained since Feb. 17 pending trial on suspicion of wasting public funds.
"I refute all of the allegations brought against me, and I know that a fair and proper legal process would prove my innocence," Ezz said in a letter sent to media from prison, his first comments after his detention pending trial.
He was charged with illegally taking control of state-owned Al-Dekheila Steel which then supplied Ezz Steel with steel at reduced prices, causing Al-Dekheila heavy losses.
Suspicions of official corruption helped fuel mass protests in Egypt that led to the overthrow of Mubarak on Feb. 11.
Some analysts see the charges against Ezz as a concession to help quell unrest, as the new military rulers seek to show they are tackling the corruption of the old regime.
Ezz was among top targets of protesters driven by complaints about poverty, corruption and political repression. His resignation last month from the National Democratic Party (NDP) was met with cheers.
In his letter, he praised the people’s revolt and said he had no regrets over things he did in public life.
"In this unprecedented time for the country, it is important to remember what our youth are calling for: freedom, fairness and democracy," Ezz wrote.
He added he hoped that while Egypt sought a bright future, he would not become a scapegoat for mistakes of executives or politicians close to Mubarak.
"I truly hope I can at least depend on a full representation of the facts, due legal process and a fair trial."