Verdict on former petroleum minister’s appeal set for March

The Court of Cassation on Monday set 25 March to rule on an appeal submitted by former Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy, who is challenging his prison sentence over exporting gas to Israel at below-market prices.

The Cairo  Criminal Court had sentenced Fahmy to 15 years on 28 June for his role in short-changing Egypt's coffers in the gas deal.

Petroleum Authority officials Hassan Aql, vice president of production, Mahmoud Latif, vice president for gas treatment and Ismail Karara, vice president of planning were also sentenced to seven years behind bars.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Ibrahim Youssef, chairman of the Egyptian Holding Company for Natural Gas, received 10 years in prison, while Ibrahim Saleh, head of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation got three years. Fugitive businessman Hussein Salem received 15 years in absentia.

The men were also collectively fined  more than US$2.5 billion.

The trial on charges of financial corruption, squandering public funds and harming national interests began in May 2011.

The prosecution argued that the suspects had negotiated an inequitable contract for Egypt, claiming the state had lost the equivalent of $714 million in the deal.

The 2005 agreement stipulated that Egypt would provide Israel with 1.7 billion cubic meters of gas annually for 15 years.

In April 2012, Egypt halted gas flow to Israel after repeated attacks on pipelines in Sinai since the 2011 revolution.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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