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Once feared Egypt interior minister gets 12 years | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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CAIRO, (AFP) — A court sentenced once feared Egyptian interior minister Habib al-Adly to 12 years for corruption on Thursday in the first trial of an official from the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

Adly, who ran Mubarak’s security services for more than a decade before the strongman’s overthrow in February in the face of 18 days of mass protests, was convicted of money-laundering and illicitly enriching himself while in office.

He had pleaded not guilty to both charges. The charges stemmed from the sale of land Adly owned after he tasked police officials with finding a buyer who would pay the highest possible price.

He faces a second trial on charges of ordering police to shoot protesters, and a third alongside the former premier and finance minister over a deal with a German firm to supply Egypt with licence plates at allegedly inflated prices.

Once one of Mubarak’s closest aides who managed to stay in the precarious post despite a series of militant attacks under his watch, Adly was ushered into a black cage in the courthouse for the brief sentencing.

Riot police and soldiers surrounded the courthouse on the outskirts of Cairo and two commandos were stationed in the small court room that was packed with journalists and police.

Judge Al-Mohamadi al-Qunsuwa, himself flanked by bodyguards ever since he sentenced a former senator and construction tycoon to death for the murder of a pop singer, entered and asked whether Adly was present.

The former interior minister, dressed in white prison garb, replied in the affirmative and Qunsuwa read the sentence.

“The court has ruled that Mohammed Habib al-Adly will be punished with seven years in prison for profiteering,” said the judge. On the second charge of money-laundering, he sentenced Adly to five years.

The former minister was also fined roughly 15 million Egyptian pounds (2.5 million dollars).

An AFP correspondent did not identify any members of Adly’s family in the courthouse and his lawyer Farid al-Deeb, who is also representing Mubarak, was absent.

Mubarak is under investigation on suspicion of involvement in the killings of anti-regime protesters, and may face the death penalty along with Adly if convicted, according to the country’s justice minister.

Adly was despised for the abuses committed by his security agents.

Human rights groups say that when he was in office, torture was routine and even banal in the Arab world’s most populous nation.

Police officers were seldom tried for abuses. When convicted, they received relatively light sentences.

Police installations were a particular target for demonstrators during the first days of the protests that toppled Mubarak, forcing police to withdraw from the streets as the military moved in on January 28 to try to restore calm.

Since then, the interior ministry has changed its motto to “The Police in service of the people,” rather than “The Police and the people in service of the nation” of the Adly era, and has instructed its officers to treat Egyptians more humanely.

Adly’s next court appearance on the charges of ordering police to open fire on protesters will be on May 21.

His six co-defendants in the trial were some of interior ministry’s most powerful commanders during the Mubarak regime, including the former head of the now dissolved State Security apparatus, Hassan Abdel Rahman.

An official inquiry into deaths during the revolt found that at least 846 civilians and 26 police officers were killed.

Most of the civilians were shot in the head and chest, indicating the use of snipers, according the inquiry’s findings.

Much of the former regime’s leadership, including Mubarak’s two sons Gamal and Alaa, are behind bars, most of them on suspicion or charges of corruption.

Mubarak himself is detained in a hospital room in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, reportedly after suffering a heart attack while being questioned.