Suspects in Pilots Association cases return villas to avoid prosecution

The judge presiding over investigations into alleged corruption in the Pilots Association on Tuesday ordered tourism official Ahmed Sayed Ahmed and five other suspects released.

Judge Osama al-Saeedy, who was tasked by the Justice Ministry with investigating the cases, ordered Ahmed released on LE100,000 bail or remanded to 15 more days in custody pending investigation if he cannot pay.

The cases under examination were brought to light by investigations into land acquisition charges involving former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, who once headed the association.

Ahmed head the resorts department of the government's New Urban Communities Authorities, which supervises Casablanca resort on the North Coast where some of the alleged illegal land sales took place.

Ahmed faces corruption charges for acquiring a chalet in the resort despite being head of the authority responsible for allocating the properties. He has paid the state for the value of the chalet, but is still facing other related charges for his role in the sales to others.

Five other suspects who settled their cases and agreed to return their properties to the state were also released Tuesday: Fouad Badr Eddin, former chairman of the Housing and Development Bank, former Major General Abdel Moneim Saleh Rahmy, his wife and son, and businessman Mohamed Ramadan al-Mougy.

According to the investigations, they had obtained villas and chalets in Casablanca resort and Cairo's Fifth Settlement district in violation of the Pilots Association statute, which requires transparency of housing projects and stipulates properties may only be allocated to association members.

The five accused have returned properties worth a combined LE7 million, bringing the total amount restored to the state in such cases to LE37 million.  

Shafiq, a former air force commander, was accused of allocating 40,000 square meters of land to the two sons of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Following the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak's government in 2011, several of his former officials have been tried or are facing charges for illegal land deals.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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