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Egypt Acquits Former Petroleum Minister over Cheap Gas to Israel Deal

Fahmy’s acquittal went on quietly, unlike the acquittals of Mubarak, his sons and aides, which provoked hundreds of to protest.

Sameh Fahmy

An Egyptian court on Saturday acquitted former oil minister Sameh Fahmy and five other former officials of corruption and profiteering charges related to exporting natural gas to Israel below market price, MENA news agency reported.

Ex-Minister of Petroleum Sameh Fahmy had been sentenced to 15 years in prison, alongside businessman Hussein Salem, who was also found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in absentia.

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The two defendants were found guilty of harming the interests of the country and wasting public funds by selling and exporting natural gas to Israel at below market rates. Egypt lost $715 million because of the deal struck between the defendants and Israel. All of the defendants in the case were collectively fined roughly $2.5 billion.

The High Court ordered Fahmy’s retrial in March 2013.

According to IANS, Most Mubarak-era officials have been acquitted of the charges against them— including corruption and killing of peaceful protesters—since they were arrested in the wake of the ouster of the ruler in 2011.

In November 2014, the Cairo Criminal Court acquitted Mubarak, his two sons Gamal and Alaa and six of his top security aides, including his interior minister Habib al-Adli, of financial corruption and responsibility for killing protesters in the 2011 uprising.

Although Fahmy’s acquittal went on quietly, the acquittals of Mubarak, his sons and aides provoked hundreds of people to protest in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square and other squares nationwide.

That’s hundreds, mind you, which means the square was mostly empty.

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