Egypt orders Mubarak detention in wealth probe

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CAIRO: Authorities on Friday ordered ousted president Hosni Mubarak to be held in detention for 15 days on charges he abused his position to illegally acquire wealth, the official MENA news agency said.

Essam al-Gohari, who heads the Illicit Gains Authority, "has ordered the detention of former president Hosni Mubarak for 15 days following questioning in Sharm El-Sheikh that lasted three hours, over accusations of the illegal acquisition of wealth," MENA said.

Mubarak, who is currently under arrest in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, and his wife Suzanne were questioned late Thursday over the corruption charges.

Investigators will continue questioning Suzanne Mubarak later on Friday, MENA said.
It was the first time the Mubaraks have been questioned by this branch of the justice ministry, which is looking into "charges that they used their position to acquire wealth illegally," the investigator’s office had told AFP earlier.

Mubarak, who is in custody in a Sharm El-Sheikh hospital on grounds of ill health, has already been interrogated by the state prosecutor’s office over several charges including ordering the shooting of anti-regime protesters.

His 30-year grip on power was brought to an end on Feb. 11 following mass nationwide protests that called for his resignation and for political and economic reforms.

The former president was hospitalized on April 12 after suffering a heart attack, and detained a day later. His detention was extended twice, most recently on Tuesday.

The military council which has been in power since Mubarak stepped down has vowed to bring to justice all those accused of abuse and launched a sweeping probe into corruption.

Mubarak, his wife Suzanne, his two sons Alaa and Gamal and their wives were banned from travel and their assets ordered frozen by general prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud.

The two sons, along with dozens of officials and businessmen associated with the former regime, are being detained in Cairo’s notorious Tora prison which housed political dissidents during the Mubarak era.

The illicit gains department said Mubarak and his wife would also be questioned about properties belonging to their two sons, who both also faced investigators last month in Tora prison.

That interrogation focused on their ties "with a company in Cyprus and one of the British Isles managing investment funds of some businessmen," a spokesman at the public prosecutor’s office said.

Both men are also accused of forcing businessmen to give them a cut in local partnerships with foreign companies.

Before the popular uprising which ousted Mubarak, Gamal, who was close to business executives and held a top post in Egypt’s ruling party, was regarded as the political heir to Mubarak, while Alaa concentrated on business.

The wives of Alaa and Gamal, Heidi Rasekh and Khadiga Al-Gammal, have also been questioned over Mubarak’s wealth.

Earlier this month, Switzerland said it had frozen 410 million francs ($463 million – over LE 2.7 billion) in funds linked to Mubarak and his associates.

At least 846 people were killed during the anti-regime protests that kicked off on Jan. 25 and took 18 days to overthrow Mubarak. Over 6,000 people were injured in clashes with security forces and regime loyalists.

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