Egypt court acquits former minister over Israel gas deal
A court in Egypt has acquitted a former oil minister, who served under ex-dictator Hosni Mubarak, of charges of selling cheap gas to Israel.
The Cairo court exonerated Sameh Fahmi and five other former oil officials in a retrial on Saturday, after they were convicted in 2012 for selling Israel natural gas at below the market price, and were sentenced to between 3 and 15 years in prison.
The defendants had been found guilty of harming the country’s interests by signing a deal to sell gas to Israel for 1.5 dollars per British thermal unit, almost nine times lower than the market price.
The ruling comes as a large number of Mubarak-era officials have recently been cleared in retrials after being initially convicted.
In November last year, an appeals court absolved Mubarak and his Interior Minister Habib al-Adly of charges of killing peaceful protesters during the 2011 revolution, which resulted in Mubarak’s ouster.
The former dictator was also exculpated during the same trial of charges of exporting cheap gas to Israel.
Following the court order, Egyptians took to the streets to protest the ruling.
The export of Egypt’s gas to Israel has always been a controversial issue in the North African country, which fought four wars with Israel before signing a peace treaty with the regime in 1979.