CAIRO: Egypt’s former tourism minister was sentenced on Tuesday to five years in prison for squandering public funds, the second member of Hosni Mubarak’s cabinet to be jailed for financial misconduct.
A criminal court found Zoheir Garana guilty of selling public land in Red Sea province below its market value to two businessmen, the court said in a statement.
The three were fined more than LE 293 million ($49.34 million) and ordered to give back the land.
Garana allocated one area of land to a company owned by Hisham Al-Haziq, who is head of the board of directors of the Gamsha tourism development company.
Further state land, also on the Red Sea, was allocated to property developer DAMAC, headed by Hussein Habib Sajwani.
Sajwani and Haziq were tried in absentia. Egyptian officials said their whereabouts were unknown.
Garana was the latest in a string of former senior government officials to be investigated following an uprising that toppled autocratic President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11.
Last week, Mubarak’s widely despised interior minister, Habib Al-Adly, was sent to jail for 12 years for money laundering and profiteering.
Egypt’s public prosecutor extended Mubarak’s detention by 15 days on Tuesday as an inquiry continues into abuse of public funds and the killing of protesters, a judicial source said.
Mubarak, who has denied the allegations, was first detained on April 13 but has not left a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh where he was taken after suffering health problems under questioning.
The interim military administration that replaced Mubarak and is preparing Egypt for free elections in September has been responding to public demands to hold Mubarak’s officials to account for abuses of power during his 30-year rule.