CAIRO: A Giza criminal court ruled Wednesday to sentence 13 officials at the Agriculture Ministry to between three to 13 years for accepting bribes, Youm7 reported.
The defendants are 13 officials at the Central Department for ownership and the General Authority for Agricultural Development and Urban projects, along with a freelance engineer, the owner of Big Ben Company and the owner of Egyptian Company for Alternative Energy Technology and Modern Industries.
Acting Attorney General Ali Omran decided to refer the defendants to the criminal court.
In 2015, a number of corruption cases inside the Agriculture Ministry were revealed, including one which involved former Minister Salah Helal.
In September 2015, Helal was arrested shortly after his resignation. In April 2016, he received a prison sentence of 10 years and a fine of 1 million EGP ($112,000) over corruption charges.
Helal was accused of requesting and taking bribes for facilitating the sale of 2,500 acres in Wadi al-Natroun city in Delta’s Beheira Governorate, according to a statement from the National Security Prosecution.
The bribes Helal and other ministry officials are accused of include: membership of a sporting club worth 140,000 EGP, a residential unit in 6 of October city worth 8.25 million EGP, mobile phones, hosting a Ramadan Iftar at a hotel worth 14,500 EGP, clothes worth 230,000 EGP and travel payment for 16 family members of the defendants to perform a pilgrimage worth 70,000 Saudi Riyal per person.
In Helal’s case, Mohy Qadh, another high official at the ministry, was also sentenced to 10 years and fined 500,000 EGP. Two other co-defendants, businessman Ayman el-Gamil and Mohamed Fouda were cleared of the charges.
A media gag was imposed on the investigations on the same day. The arrest was followed by a governmental reshuffle.