UPDATE 2-Egypt's former tourism minister jailed for 5 years

Tue May 10, 2011 5:04pm GMT
 

* Minister among several ex-officials to be investigated

* Found guilty of selling public land below market value (Updates with Damac response to verdict)

By Isabel Coles

CAIRO, May 10 (Reuters) - Egypt's former tourism minister was sentenced to five years' imprisonment on Tuesday for squandering public funds, the second member of former President Hosni Mubarak's cabinet to be jailed for financial misconduct.

Zoheir Garranah was among several former officials to be investigated after an uprising against Mubarak, who left office on Feb. 11.

The army generals who took control from Mubarak are under pressure to take a hard line against high-level corruption and show they are forging political change before an election for a new parliament in September.

Egypt's public prosecutor extended Mubarak's detention by 15 days on Tuesday as an investigation continued 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 been in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since he suffered health problems under questioning.

Garranah was found guilty of selling two tracts of public land in Red Sea province below their market value to two businessmen, the Cairo criminal court said in a statement.

The three were fined 293 million Egyptian Pounds ($49.34 million) and ordered to give back the two plots.

One of the businessmen was Hussein Habib Sajwani, chairman of the Dubai-based property developer Damac, which bought one of the plots.

Damac said the court's verdict was politically motivated and vowed to appeal.

"Damac stresses that the accusations levelled against it and its chairman are without foundation and the company will continue to refute these accusations without reservation," it said in a statement.

The second plot, also on the Red Sea, was allocated to a company owned by Hisham al-Haziq, who is head of the board of directors of the Gamsha tourism development company.

Sajwani and Haziq were tried in absentia. Egyptian officials said their whereabouts were unknown.

Last week, Mubarak's Interior Minister Habib el-Adli was jailed for 12 years for money laundering and profiteering. (Editing by Andrew Dobbie)

 
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