CAIRO: North Cairo Criminal Court ordered Sunday for an “experts committee” to be formed to re-examine and evaluate the assets of former President Hosni Mubarak’s chief of staff Zakaria Azmi, who is being tried on charges of corruption and illicit profiteering, reported Youm7.
The court ordered for the formation of the committee to include experts from the Ministry of Justice, the Illicit Gaining Authority along with experts in assessment and in the evaluation of furniture and antiquities.
The committee would be tasked with examining the sources of Azmi’s wealth.
On April 1, 2011, Deputy Attorney General and Head of Illicit Gains Authority Assem al-Gawhari imposed a travel ban on several members of Mubarak’s regime including Parliament speaker Fathi Surour, Azmi and ruling party head Safwat el-Sherif citing suspicions of corruption, according to Al-Ahram newspaper.
“This decision comes in light of revelations from investigations conducted by oversight institutions regarding the wealth they amassed,” Gawhari told the official news agency.
A few days later, Gawhari ordered for the assets of the three defendants to be frozen along with the assets of their wives and family members before he sentenced Azmi to 15 days pending investigations over corruption and illicit profiteering leveled against him, according to Al-Ahram newspaper.
Azmi is accused of abusing his political power as a parliamentarian, chief of staff, and leader of the disbanded Democratic Party to illegally amassing 43 million EGP (U.S. $6.2 million) through loans from the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, Al-Akhbar newspaper and the publishing house Dar el-Tahrir, according to The Cairo Post.
He is also accused of having conspired with his brother-in-law and his wife to hide parts of his real estate fortune.
On May 17, 2011, Cairo Court of Appeals released Azmi on 200,000 EGP ($29,000) bail. According to Egyptian law, a suspect can be held for up to 45 days maximum before he is either freed or brought to trial.
However, two days later, Cairo Criminal Court suspended the decision and ordered the detention of Azmi for 30 additional days in order to conduct further investigations on charges of illegal profiting. Gawhari ordered that Azmi return to detention based on additional and undisclosed wealth believed to have been illegally gained.
On May 27, 2012, Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Azmi to seven years of rigorous imprisonment and fined him 37 million EGP ($5.7 million) over graft charges, according to Youm7.
On Feb. 13, 2013, after spending over 21 month in custody, Cairo Court of Appeals released Azmi after accepting the appeal filed by his lawyer against the seven-year prison sentence. Azmi is still not allowed to leave Egypt before the investigations are concluded, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.
The appeal was in conjunction with Article 143 of Egypt’s criminal procedures law, which states that a prisoner cannot be held in custody for more than 18 months while investigations are carried out.
In Dec. 2013, Azmi’s Lawyer Gamal Saeed presented official documents proving that Azmi paid back the amount of 43 million EGP ($ 6.2 million) loaned to him by the government through the state-owned Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar newspapers and the publishing house Dar el-Tahrir, according to The Cairo Post.
On Feb. 24, fourteen employees at Al-Ahram Media Institution were banned from traveling pending investigations concerning an illegal seizure of public funds, according to The Cairo Post.
Azmi served as Mubarak’s chief of staff from 1989 until 2011.