Egypt ex-tourism minister gets 5 years for corruption

Zuheir Garranah was charged with wasting public funds worth USD 51 million.

Last Updated: May 10, 2011, 23:49 PM IST

Cairo: Egypt`s former tourism minister
Zuheir Garranah was on Tuesday jailed for five years on charges of
corruption, a justice source said.

Garranah, who was sentenced along with two
businessmen, was charged with wasting public funds worth USD
51 million, after authorising the sale of state-owned land for
well below the market price.

He is the second minister who served under toppled
president Hosni Mubarak to be jailed for fraud, as part of a
sweeping probe into corruption by the country`s new military
rulers.

Garranah is said to have ordered the sale of 305
million square metres -- some of which was oil-rich -- to
businessmen Hisham al-Hazeq and Hussein Segwani for one dollar
per square metre for tourism projects.

He was detained on February 17, less than a week after
a popular uprising forced Mubarak to step down and hand power
to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

The trial of corrupt officials, including Mubarak, was
a key demand of protesters.

On Thursday, a court sentenced once feared Egyptian
interior minister Habib al-Adly to 12 years for corruption.

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

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.

Mubarak is currently under arrest in a hospital in
Sharm el-Sheikh, while the military mulls moving him to a
prison hospital in Cairo.

His two sons Alaa and Gamal, along with dozens
officials and businessmen associated with the former regime
are being detained in Cairo`s notorious Tora prison which
housed political dissidents during in the Mubarak era.

The USD 10 billion a year tourism industry accounts
for more than a tenth of the country`s GDP and employs more
than 12 per cent of its workforce.

More than 14 million tourists visited Egypt in 2010, a
record number, with around a third of them hitting the Red Sea
Coast.
The vital industry has weathered regional unrest
before, including after bombings in Sharm el-Sheikh in 2005
that killed 88 people.

PTI