Court sentences 7 officials to prison for gas deal with Israel

Cairo Criminal Court sentenced on Thursday former Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy and businessman Hussein Salem to 15 years in prison for their involvement in Egypt's gas deal with Israel.

The court also handed down several other prison sentences: 10 years for former Chairman of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) Mohamed Ibrahim Youssef, seven years for three former senior Petroleum Ministry officials and three years for another ministry official.

Egypt has an extradition request pending for Salem, who was arrested in Spain last June.

State-run news agency MENA reported that the court also imposed a total of US$2.3 billion in fines on the defendants.

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

The prosecution argued that the suspects ordered gas exported to Israel at prices well below international standards and negotiated an inequitable contract for Egypt. The prosecution said the state had lost the equivalent of US$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, Egypt halted gas flow to Israel after repeated attacks on a Sinai pipeline since the 2011 revolution.

Edited translation from MENA

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