Court: Verdict in steel tycoon trial to be issued 6 Jan

The verdict steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz's trial is scheduled be issued on 6 January, the Gaza Criminal Court said on Thursday.

Ezz, owner of the Ezz Steel Rebars Compay, is facing charges of profiteering and squandering public funds alongside six others.

Thursday’s court session saw the closing arguments of both the defense and the prosecution.

Defense lawyers argued on Wednesday that Ezz did not intend to waste public money with his actions, but the prosecution stated that the charges against the defendant were proved by official documents, including a report from the Central Auditing Agency.

Ezz's defense Wednesday denied that Ezz had an intent to commit the crime by wasting public money. The prosecutor replied saying that the charges against Ezz were based on official documents, including the report of the Central Auditing Agency.

The prosecution requested the maximum penalty be issued for all the defendants.

Wednesday's session also saw the surprise departure of Ezz's attorney Farid al-Deeb from his case. Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that Deeb's assistant delivered a note to the court room stating that he would not attend this or any subsequent court sessions because he has terminated his representation of Ezz.

The case centers on charges that Ezz, former Industry Minister Ibrahim Mohamedein and five company officials acquired the shares of the Dekheila Steel in an unlawful way. The defendants were referred to court in June 2011 on charges of profiteering and squandering around LE5 billion in public funds.

Investigations alleged that Mohamedein had enabled Ezz to seize shares at the formerly state-owned Dekheila Steel Company from 1999 to 2001. The prosecutors accuse Ezz of making illegal profits worth LE687.44 million from the shares, while making a further LE4.82 billion in illegal profits from 2001 to 2011.

In October, the Cairo Criminal Court found Ezz guilty on seperate charges of money laundering and sentened him to seven years in prison.

Ezz was arrested 24 February 2011 following the resignation of former President Hosni Mubarak. Ezz was a business tycoon and close associate of Gamal Mubarak, son of the deposed president.

Edited translation from MENA

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