Court adjourns trial of former housing minister and businessman

The Cairo Criminal Court adjourned the trial of former Housing Minister Ahmed al-Maghrabi and businessman Akram Adada over charges of seizing state land to Thursday.

Though Maghrabi attended the trial, the defense asked to postpone it due to the absence of Maghrabi's lawyer. The decision was issued by the head judge, Assem Abdel Meguid.

One of the civil claimants, Osman al-Hefnawy, requested that other charges be considered: one regarding felony bribery and another that would force the disputed building to be returned to the state. He also requested that State Council deputy Abdel Kadir Kandil be included in the case for approving the appropriation of the land to the defendants.

The prosecution referred Maghrabi and Adada to court after they were convicted of intentionally harming state assets. According to the accusation, Maghrabi helped appropriate a Cairo plot of land to a real estate investment company so it could establish an upscale housing project at below-market prices.

Maghrabi is among several ministers who served under former President Hosni Mubarak facing corruption charges in Egyptian courts.

In July 2011, the Cairo Criminal Court acquitted Maghrabi of squandering public money. He had been accused of selling state-owned land at a price lower than its fair value, and then re-buying it through Palm Hills, a company of which he is a partner.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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