Court of Cassation upholds prison sentence for former agriculture minister

Egypt's Court of Cassation upheld an earlier ruling against former agriculture minister Salah Eddine Helal on Sunday, which convicted him of corruption charges.

In April 2016, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Helal and his deputy Mohie Eddin Qadh to 10 years of hard labor after being found guilty of corruption and bribery.

In addition to the prison sentences, the former minister was fined LE1 million and his deputy LE500,000.

Two other suspects in the case, ministry official Mouhamed Fouda and businessman Ayman al-Gameel, were acquitted.

Helal appealed against the verdict but the court rejected his plea today, upholding the earlier decision of the Cairo Criminal Court.

Helal, who was appointed as agriculture minister in March 2015 under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, was arrested in September that year on suspicion of accepting bribes in return for granting land licenses.

According to a previous statement from the prosecution, the two ministry officials demanded bribes from businessman Gameel, one of the defendants, in return for authorizing procedures for 2,500 acres of land in Wadi al-Natrun.

The bribes included a membership at Ahly Sporting Club worth LE140,000, clothes worth LE230,000, two cellphones worth LE11,000, and a residential unit in 6th of October City priced at LE8.25 million.

Egypt's Prosecutor General Nabil Sadiq referred the defendants to criminal court in October 2015, and Helal submitted his resignation to then-Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb just prior to being arrested.

The arrest of Helal on corruption charges led to the resignation of Mehleb's government, and he was replaced as prime minister by Sherif Ismail.

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