- Middle East/North Africa
The Cabinet approved an amendment Wednesday allowing defense lawyers to plea bargain for clients convicted in absentia as part of the government's reconciliation efforts.
The hope is that citizens convicted of crimes like corruption or money laundering will trade assets and cash in return for the dropping of all charges and jail sentences.
Also on Wednesday, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that companies owned by fugitive businessman Hussein Salem are appraising their assets and stocks to prepare for a possible reconciliation with the Egyptian government, according to Salem's lawyer, Tarek Abdel Aziz.
Abdel Aziz said his client had received seven proposals from local evaluation firms registered with the Central Bank of Egypt about his domestic assets, adding that assets abroad would not be appraised.
Abdel Aziz said the results of the appraisals will not be sent to prosecutors or any other parties for negotiations over a settlement. He also denied that any agreement had been reached with the Egyptian government on the exact amount to be returned.
In addition, he said prosecutors have been studying an offer by Salem to waive half of his properties and assets in return for throwing out his criminal charges.
Hussein Salem, a close ally to deposed President Hosni Mubarak, fled to Spain in February 2011 following the January uprising that toppled Mubarak.
In June 2012, Salem, along with Mubarak, was acquitted of corruption charges related to Egypt’s natural gas export deal with Israel. He was, however, sentenced to 15 years in March of the same year over a corrupt land deal.
However, Housing Minister Tarek Wafik was quick to add, “Reconciliation with investors does not mean reconciliation with the officials of the former regime.”
The amendment was of Article 7 of the Legislative Decree No. 7 2012 on investment guarantees and incentives.
Edited translation from Al-Mmasry Al-Youm, MENA