April 11, 2016 / 11:32 AM / in 2 years

Egypt's ex-agriculture minister sentenced to 10 years for corruption

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s former agriculture minister, Salah El Din Mahmoud Helal, and his office manager were sentenced to 10 years in prison each on corruption charges on Monday.

A Cairo Criminal Court also fined Helal one million Egyptian pounds ($112,613.88) and his office manager, Mohieldine Qadah, 500,000 pounds after convicting them of taking bribes in return for land licenses.

Helal and Qadah, standing in a steel cage for defendants in the courtroom in a white prison uniform, did not react to the verdict.

Their lawyer, Farid al-Deeb, said they would appeal.

Helal was arrested minutes after his resignation in September on suspicion of taking bribes from a businessman in return for land licenses.

The prosecution said in a court session in December that Helal and his office manager had accepted bribes including a luxury home, membership of an exclusive sports club, clothing from high-end fashion stores, and mobile phones.

Both officials denied any wrongdoing in December’s court session, but the businessman confessed to bribing the pair, and an intermediary charged with facilitating the deal has also said he was guilty.

Egypt ranked 88th out of 168 countries on Transparency International’s 2015 corruption perceptions index. The country’s 2011 uprising was partially driven by a desire to end entrenched corruption under Hosni Mubarak, whose 30-year-rule was ended after 18 days of mass protest.

Reporting by Haithem Ahmad, Writing by Amina Ismail, Editing by Angus MacSwan

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