Zahi Hawass appeals prison sentence

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CAIRO: The head of the legal affairs department at the Ministry of State for Antiquities appealed Monday the ruling by the Agouza Misdemeanors Court sentencing Minister of State for Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, to one year of hard labor in prison, a fine of LE 1,000 and a dismissal from his post.

The court also ruled Sunday that a bail of LE 500 be paid to suspend the ruling until a decision is made on the appeal. Hawass will have to pay LE 10,000 as civil compensation for the plaintiff.

Press reports suggested that the Agouza Misdemeanors Court ruled against Hawass for refusing to implement a court decision over a land dispute during his tenure as Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).

However, in a press statement, Hawass said that the case revolved around a bid for the bookstore at the Egyptian Museum last year.

According to the statement, the person who was renting the bookstore inside the museum wanted to halt the bidding process to retain his contract and so he filed the lawsuit at the Agouza Misdemeanors Court.

“This case was filed against the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), not against me personally, but against the position I was holding at that time,” said Hawass.

The bidding ended in May 2010 in favor of the Egyptian Sound and Light Company.
According to Hawass’ statement, the trial began in June and so the SCA representatives “did not have time to present evidence that the bidding was complete and so the court ruled against holding the bid. But it was too late.”

In November 2010, the court issued a ruling which cleared Hawass who, as Secretary General of the SCA, was not in charge of legal affairs at the SCA, which was under the Ministry of Culture at the time.
The plaintiff continued to pursue the case in court, attempting to prove that Hawass was in fact in charge of legal affairs. Hawass says that he was handed down the sentence because he had no legal representative in court.

“I have full confidence that this matter will be cleared up very soon, so I want to tell everyone not to worry. I respect the laws of my country, and the rulings of our courts. I intend to handle this matter entirely within our legal system. Nothing will cause me to lose focus of my goal of protecting the sites of Egypt,” he said.

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