Egypt graft agency orders Mubarak and wife detained

CAIRO Fri May 13, 2011 9:04pm BST

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (C) speaks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (2nd L) as India's President Pratibha Patil (R) and Mubarak's wife Suzanne watch during a ceremonial reception at the presidential palace in New Delhi November 18, 2008. REUTERS/B Mathur

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (C) speaks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (2nd L) as India's President Pratibha Patil (R) and Mubarak's wife Suzanne watch during a ceremonial reception at the presidential palace in New Delhi November 18, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/B Mathur

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's anti-graft agency said on Friday it had ordered former President Hosni Mubarak and his wife detained as part of a probe into charges they used their influence to amass wealth unlawfully.

Investigators interrogated Mubarak, who has denied wrongdoing, for more than three hours on Thursday evening in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, and questioned his wife Suzanne on Friday, the state news agency MENA reported.

Mubarak's wife was later admitted to the hospital with what the facility director called a suspected heart attack.

"Suzanne Mubarak has been admitted to hospital with a suspected heart attack and high blood pressure. She will be put under observation for 24 hours," Mohammed Abu al-Futouh told Reuters.

It was the first detention order for the ousted president's wife, although the public prosecutor had already ordered Mubarak detained on April 13 as part of a separate investigation into charges of abuse of public funds and the killing of protesters.

Some media reports have suggested the Mubarak family's wealth may total billions of dollars, a major rallying point for anti-government protests in a country where around 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day.

"I expected it, yet it still feels good to hear it," Mohamed Ahmed, a 23-year-old banker, told Reuters in Cairo after hearing about the order.

Mass demonstrations forced Mubarak to step down on February 11, and later protests put pressure on the country's interim military rulers to allow investigations into the family's wealth.

Some Egyptians have been unhappy about the treatment of Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for three decades. Dozens of demonstrators gathered at a major Cairo mosque on Friday saying the deposed ruler should not be put on trial, MENA reported.

The anti-graft agency, known as the Illicit Gains Authority, ordered that Mubarak's wife be detained for 15 days. Security and judicial sources said she would be transferred to a Cairo prison.

The 83-year-old former president has been staying at a hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh since he suffered health problems under initial questioning.

The public prosecutor last month ordered the Mubarak be transferred to a Cairo prison hospital but said it would take at least a month to make the necessary preparations.

INTERROGATION

Mubarak was questioned about his ownership of a Sharm el-Sheikh villa estimated to be worth more than 36 million Egyptian pounds and about his alleged personal use of a bank account owned by the Library of Alexandria, MENA said. The account contains $145 million (89 million pounds), it said.

Mubarak's wife was questioned about a Cairo villa and 20 million Egyptian pounds in an unspecified bank account, it added.

"During its investigation, the agency confronted Mubarak with reports from comptrollers regarding unlawful gains not commensurate with his legitimate income during his career," MENA said, citing Assem el-Gohari, a senior justice ministry official.

Aides insist the Mubaraks have done nothing wrong.

The former president and his wife also signed documents in Arabic, English and French agreeing to reveal information about their domestic and foreign bank accounts.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry told its embassies in the Arab world and Western countries on February 22 to freeze the assets of the toppled leader and his family.

Switzerland's Foreign Ministry said earlier this month the country had found 410 million Swiss francs (285.5 million pounds) traced to Mubarak.

(Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz and Yasmine Saleh; editing by Sami Aboudi and Matthew Jones)

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