Former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif of Egypt will stand trial in criminal court on charges of corruption, the authorities said Sunday afternoon.
They said that several other officials of the deposed Hosni Mubarak administration would also be tried on similar charges. These officials include the former minister of finance, Youssef Boutros Ghali, and of the interior, Habib Al Adly.
Former president Mubarak, and his sons, Gamal and Alaa, may face such charges as well. Gamal Mubarak and Alaa Mubarak are currently held in Cairo’s Bora Farm prison.
State prosecutors said Sunday evening that the sons will be questioned at Bora Farm prison itself, rather than risking transporting them to another location for interrogation. The implication was that the Mubarak sons faced such intense public hostility that their safety would be jeopardized if they were transported from Bora Farm prison.
Former President Mubarak, meanwhile, is said to be at a military hospital in Cairo. He was transported there from his residence in the resort community of Sharm El Sheikh on the Red Sea. A summons was served on him, and Mr. Mubarak is aware that he will be questioned about corruption and about the shootings of protestors while he was still president. Mr. Mubarak is suffering from a heart ailment.
Sunday afternoon’s announcement that former Prime Minister Nazif will stand trial in criminal court was not entirely unexpected. Nevertheless, the announcement of the criminal trials are certain to resonate well with Egyptians who pushed the revolution that toppled Mr. Mubarak. They have argued that alleged perpetrators of financial mismanagement and practitioners of corruption in the ancien regime must be brought to trial.
Mr. Nazif, who acted as Mr. Mubarak’s prime minister for more than five years, will be in custody for 15 days as part of an investigation into the squandering of public funds. Sources say assets of several former officials and ministers have also been frozen over corruption and use of violence against the peaceful protesters.
Among these officials the former finance minister Youssef Boutros Ghali who is suspected of illicit gains and graft.
Also among these official, Habib Al-Adly, who acted as interior minister and has been earlier referred with 4 of his aides to the criminal court on charges of laundering money.
Now, he would be referred to the criminal court over a different charge, which are illicit gains. Prosecutors are still investigating whether Al-Adly would be referred to the criminal court ordering the shooting of anti regime protesters.
Mr. Nazif’s arrest was announced shortly after Egypt's public prosecutor summoned former President Hosni Mubarak and his sons for questioning. The Mubarak family is facing allegations of corruption as well as violence against the protests that ended his rule. Mubarak has rejected the accusations as libel. In an interview with the Saudi television Al-Arabiya for the first time since his ouster in February, Mubarak said he is prepared to aid any probe into his family's assets outside Egypt. He also threatened to sue his accusers.
This comes as Egyptians continue to protest against the ruling military council -- now in power -- at Cairo's Liberation Square.
Also on Sunday, Egypt’s chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass, the guardian of some of the world's most important treasures, who was named minister of antiquities by erstwhile President Mubarak, was given a one-year jail sentence.
Mr. Hawass had served as head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
According to Al Arabiya’s correspondent in Cairo, the judgment was over a dispute between an Egyptian citizen and the Council over the ownership of a piece of land.
Previously a court ruled that the Council had to hand over the ownership of the land to its “genuine” owner.
The court decided that Mr. Hawass refused to abide, which led to his indictment.
In addition the court decided that Mr. Hawass has to be fired from his job.
Mr. Hawass’s appointment angered pro-democracy activists who have been calling for the cabinet to be purged of all old regime elements.
His nomination came amid multiplying calls by the UNESCO to protect Egypt’s heritage after reports of looting and theft during the unrest that followed the popular uprising.
Separately, Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court has ordered the dissolution of the former ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and the seizure of its assets, according to judicial sources.
Hosni Mubarak led the party for more than three decades. The party has been trying to survive the popular revolt that toppled Mr. Mubarak from Egypt’s presidency in February 2011. Many of the party’s senior executives have been under investigation for corruption.
“The tribunal ordered the dissolution of the NDP and the seizure of his money. Its headquarters and its buildings will be transferred to the government,” a source told Agence-France Presse.
The party dominated Egyptian politics since Mr. Mubarak’s predecessor, the late President Anwar el-Sadat, established it in 1978. Islamists assassinated Mr. Sadat in 1982, while he was reviewing a military march-past in Cairo. Mr. Mubarak, then his deputy, was on the same stand, and was injured in the violence.
The party’s headquarters were torched during the protests that forced Mubarak to step down, and its supporters were blamed for some acts of violence during the demonstrations.
Ahmed Ezz, a prominent businessman and the secretary for NDP’s organizational affairs, was detained following the departure of Mr. Mubarak.
Now Mr. Ezz is being held in detention at the Bora Farm prison in Cairo, where his fellow inmates include Mr. Mubarak’s sons, Gamal and Alaa.
Mr. Ezz reportedly used his enormous wealth to promote his political career and climb high ranks in the ruling party using his connections with Gamal Mubarak, the head of the policies committee in the party.
He was widely blamed for the widespread fraud that marred parliamentary elections held in November and December 2010. The former ruling party won all but a small fraction of the chamber’s 518 seats. Mr. Ezz denied the charge in an interview with Al Arabiya TV.
In the interview, Mr. Ezz told Al Arabiya that it was difficult to predict NDP’s future but he said party would likely remain politically active.
He acknowledged that the NDP did not expect demonstrations to escalate to a full-fledged uprising that could oust the regime.
(Ammar Benaziz of Al Arabiya, can be reached at: Ammar.firstname.lastname@example.org. Mustapha Ajbaili, also of Al Arabiya can be reached at: Mustapha.email@example.com)