CAIRO, (AP)– Egyptian authorities on Thursday arrested the country’s former information minister and the chairman of state TV and radio on corruption allegations, security officials said.
The arrests of Anas al-Fiqqi and Osama el-Sheikh are the latest steps Egypt’s ruling generals have taken against prominent figures in the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, who handed power to the military when he stepped down Feb. 11.
Former Information Minister al-Fiqqi was a confidante of Mubarak and his powerful, one-time heir apparent son Gamal. Under their stewardship, state TV persistently discredited the young organizers of the 18-day uprising that forced Mubarak to step down after nearly 30 years of authoritarian rule.
Their arrest followed the imposition Wednesday of a travel ban on a former prime minister and an ex-minister who handled the nation’s cultural affairs for more than 25 years. El-Sheikh also was banned from leaving the country on Wednesday, together with nine businessmen.
Al-Fiqqi has already been placed under house arrest pending the completion of a corruption probe.
The officials who announced the arrests spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Also Wednesday, an angry crowd of hundreds taunted three former high-ranking members of Mubarak’s regime when they arrived in court for a corruption hearing, screaming “thieves” and “you robbed our money.”
The three former top officials who appeared in a Cairo Criminal Court — ex-Housing Minister Ahmed Maghrabi, former Tourism Minister Zuheir Garana and steel tycoon and prominent ruling party leader Ahmed Ezz — wore white prison uniforms and sat in a metal cage as a judge issued a ruling blocking any commercial dealings in their properties.
Maghrabi shouted out from behind the cage: “I will not be a scapegoat. I am innocent.” Ezz and Garana also said they were innocent.
The trio, who face allegations that range from abuse of authority to squandering state wealth, are among some two dozen ex-ministers and businessmen who are under investigation. The protesters who ousted Mubarak often mentioned corruption as a key motive behind their movement.
The popular anger felt against such former regime power brokers was evident Wednesday. As the vehicles carrying Maghrabi, Garana and Ezz drove through the streets of Cairo to the courthouse, dozens of cars followed them honking and people chanted “there are the thieves.”
When they arrived at the packed court, more than 500 people had gathered outside the building to shout at them.
Wednesday’s travel ban was slapped on former Prime Minister Atef Obeid, who served as premier from 1999 to 2004, as well as long-serving Culture Minister Farouq Hosni and el-Sheikh, the state TV and radio chief.