Egyptian former agriculture minister jailed for 10 years on graft charges

Former Egyptian agriculture minister Salah Helal was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Cairo court on Monday for corruption.

Helal was accused of accepting bribes from businessman Ayman El-Gameel, one of the other defendants in the case, in return for smoothing over legal procedures for the latter to buy 2,500 feddans of land in Wadi El-Natroun, about 100km northwest of Cairo.

Some of the bribes came in the form of EGP 8.25 million worth of residential property in Cairo’s 6 October city, membership of a sporting club worth 140,000, clothes and mobile phones, the court said.

The judge on Monday also ordered Helal, who was arrested in September shortly after he resigned as minister amid news of the corruption charges, to pay a EGP 1 million (approx. $113,000) fine.

The case provoked steep criticism of the cabinet of then-prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab, and a few days following Helal’s resignation the rest of the government tendered their resignations.

Helal’s advisor Mohey El-Din El-Saied, who was also convicted in the case, also received a 10-year jail term and was ordered to pay an EGP 500,000 (approximately $56,000) fine.

El-Gameel, who paid the bribe, along with another defendant who played mediator, were acquitted in return for “admitting” their crime, pursuant to Egypt’s penal code.

Judge Osama El-Rasheedy, however, criticised that part of the law as providing “a licence to [spread] corruption amongst state employees and [offer] immunity to [that] category of criminals.”

source: Ahram Online