Minister accused of selling Israel cheap Egyptian gas acquitted

Minister accused of selling Israel cheap Egyptian gas acquitted
A Cairo court has ruled in favour of former Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy comes amid concerns that the old leadership is regaining its influence in Egypt.
2 min read
28 October, 2016
Sameh Fahmy (right) was jailed in 2012 but his conviction has been quashed [AFP]

An Egyptian appeals court has acquitted a Mubarak-era oil minister accused of selling Israel under-priced gas and squandering public funds.

Sameh Fahmy was first convicted and sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2012. A consequent trial in February 2015 saw the former minister acquitted before the prosecution won a successful appeal for a retrial.

Egypt's Court of Cassation on Thursday ruled that Fahmy, in addition to five over petroleum ministry officials, were innocent of charges brought against them, al-Ahram reported.

Egypt's sale of gas to Israel has long been a topic of controversy in the north African state.

At the time of the 2011 revolution Egypt was selling natural gas to Israel as part of a 20-year agreement. However, under the Muslim Brotherhood which rose to power consequently the deal was stopped in April 2012 following consistent attacks on the pipeline by militants in the Sinai.

Following the arrest of democratically elected former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 in a military coup that brought current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power several Mubarak-era figures have been acquitted of convictions levelled during the post-2011 Revolution years.

In November 2014, Mubarak himself was deemed innocent of charges of killing peaceful protestors during the 2011 uprising that lead to his downfall.

Many Egyptians continue to view the Mubarak era as a period of autocracy and crony capitalism. The acquittal of figures from the regime, and arrest and imprisonment of Mursi-era figures - coupled with the imposition of laws that curtail political freedoms - have raised concerns in the country that the old guard is regaining influence.