Egypt demands UK expedite return of assets, fugitives

Egypt has officially demanded that the UK expedite procedures for retrieving frozen Egyptian assets and extraditing fugitives, the BBC reported. An Egyptian delegation made the request during a recent round of talks in London between the two sides.

Adel Fahmy, head of the delegation, said Egypt called on British authorities to start retrieving the assets and take serious measures against fugitives.

The British government said it would return assets that Egyptian courts rule have been stolen. A government representative told BBC that the UK would cooperate with Egypt to achieve justice and rejuvenate its economy. He said returning the frozen assets would depend on British legal procedures.

The UK had previously announced it would freeze accounts and assets estimated at 85 million British pounds (LE800 million), in response to a European Union decision to freeze the assets of 19 Egyptians, including ex-President Hosni Mubarak and his family members.

Ahmed Saad of the Justice Ministry’s international cooperation department said the European Union and UK decisions to freeze the assets until next March is a positive step.

“We informed the Europeans and the British that the main reason behind the freeze was the serious legal procedures being taken by Egyptian authorities in an attempt to finalize procedures,” he added.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office described the meeting as important and a representative told the BBC that officials from the interior ministry and public prosecution in London considered, along with the Egyptian officials, the legal aid system in the UK.

Egypt had submitted several requests demanding aid to retrieve the assets and the fugitives.

Hesham al-Darandaly, in charge of international cooperation in the prosecution and a member of the delegation, said the talks helped clarify legal issues hindering a resolution.

The talks also tackled the Egyptian extradition request for former Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali, who fled to the UK last year after the eruption of the 25 January revolution.

“British officials said they were still mulling the Egyptian request to review the possibility of getting it approved according to procedures of British law,” Fahmy said.

Saad told BBC that Egypt renewed requests to negotiate an agreement on the fugitives that would help speed up extradition.

The two sides also agreed on the importance of direct cooperation and communication in resolving problems that result from differences in their legal systems.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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