Egypt court jails ex-oil minister for corruption

CAIRO Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:34pm BST

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CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court sentenced former oil minister Sameh Fahmy to 15 years in prison on Thursday for selling cheap gas to Israel and squandering public funds, a judicial source said.

Fahmy was arrested and held in custody in April 2011 and his trial began the next month.

Prosecutors said former president Hosni Mubarak's government sold gas at preferential rates to Israel and other countries, costing Egypt billions of dollars in lost revenue.

Suspicions of high-level corruption helped drive protests that unseated Mubarak in February 2011 and led to a string of lawsuits against him and several of his associates.

Mubarak was tried and handed a life prison sentence this month for his role in the killing of hundreds of protesters against his rule.

Hussein Salem, a major shareholder in East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), which exported the gas to Israel, was given a 15-year prison sentence in absentia by the court. Salem fled to Spain after the uprising.

Ten other petroleum ministry officials received jail terms of between three and 10 years in prison and fines totalling 2.5 billion Egyptian pounds ($412.47 million) on Thursday, the judicial source said.

(Reporting by Tamim Elyan and Marwa Awad; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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