Ministry plays down Mubarak cancer report: papers

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CAIRO: Egypt’s health ministry has no official documentation confirming former President Hosni Mubarak has cancer, newspapers quoted on Sunday a deputy minister as saying, casting doubt on comments by Mubarak’s lawyer.


Defense lawyer Farid El-Deeb said last week that the former leader, awaiting trial for the killing of protesters and abuse of power, had stomach cancer and the tumors were growing.

Mubarak has been detained in hospital in a Red Sea resort since suffering heart problems during questioning in April. Officials say continued concerns about his health mean he cannot be moved to a prison near Cairo to await trial.

"The Health Ministry does not possess any scientific document confirming the former president is afflicted with cancer," independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm quoted Deputy Health Minister Abdel-Hamid Abaza as saying.

Other newspapers also carried the comments. Health ministry officials could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Mubarak, due to stand trial on Aug. 3, has not appeared in public since a popular uprising forced him from power on Feb. 11. He made a recorded statement in April in which he denied accusations of corruption and vowed to defend his reputation.

Al-Masry Al-Youm, citing medical and judicial sources, also said that a German medical team would be examining Mubarak "within hours". It said the team included the doctor who conducted surgery on Mubarak last year.

His health was a subject of frequent speculation as the veteran leader aged in office, particularly since he had gallbladder surgery in Germany in March last year. A growth on his small intestine was also removed at the time.

One report by the Washington Times in July last year, citing Western intelligence agencies, suggested he had cancer and could have less than a year to live. Officials at the time consistently denied such reports of health problems.

A German medical team, including the surgeon who operated on Mubarak last year, was expected in Sharm el-Sheikh later on Sunday to examine him and see if he is indeed suffering from cancer, Al-Masry Al-Youm said.

Some Egyptians suspect the numerous illnesses ascribed to Mubarak are a ploy by Egypt’s ruling army generals to ensure the decorated former air force officer avoids a humiliating trial.




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