An Egyptian court on Thursday convicted a former housing minister of corruption and sentenced him to five years in prison. Ahmed al-Maghrabi was found guilty of illegal acquisition of state land [Reuters report] for his part in the sale of the 18 acres of land to a prominent businessman, who was convicted in the same case and given a one-year suspended sentence. The public land was sold without auction and well below market value, in violation of a 1998 law. As a result, the two men were found guilty of wasting public funds and ordered to repay 72 million Egyptian pounds (USD $12.6 million) to the state for damaging public finances, and were then together fined an additional 72 million pounds. At this time Maghrabi also faces charges of profiteering and wasting public funds in another corruption suit involving a relative.
Maghrabi is the third senior minister from the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile] to be sentenced to a prison term. Earlier this month, an Egyptian criminal court convicted [JURIST report] the country's former tourism minister, Zoheir Garranah, for corruption and sentenced him to five years in prison. In April, Egyptian prosecutors charged [JURIST report] former prime minister Ahmed Nazif, former finance minister Yousef Boutros and former interior minister Habib el Adly with corruption. In March, a commission of Arab and Egyptian human rights groups accused the former president [JURIST report] and the country's police of murdering protesters during the demonstrations. The joint commission submitted their report to Egypt's top prosecutor for further investigation. The Supreme Military Council of Egypt, which assumed power after Mubarak's resignation, instructed Egypt's top prosecutor to investigate the death of protesters [RIA Novosti report] during the three weeks of demonstrations in the country. Last week Amnesty International reported that at least 840 people were killed [JURIST report], and more than 6,000 were injured, during the Egyptian protests.