Former ministers cleared of involvement in Hurghada illegal land acquisitions

Giza Criminal Court cleared on Saturday former Housing Minister Ahmed al-Maghraby, former Tourism Minister Zoheir Garana, and Khaled Makhlouf, head of the executive apparatus for tourism development, of charges of profiteering and facilitating seizure of public money.

During the last session of what has come to be known as the Hurghada land case, the court heard Maghraby’s defense requesting his acquittal in accordance with a decision issued by the cabinet of Kamal al-Ganzoury in the 1990s.

The defense said that Maghraby was brought to trial for a charge that he did not commit and that he is actually standing trial for having been a minister before the revolution.

The prosecution earlier accused Maghraby of allocating thousands of meters in Hurghada to the Royal Company for Tourism Development, when Garana was the company chairman and owned 42.5 percent of its shares. One meter was sold for US$1, while the real price was $7-10.

Garana was also cleared of charges of illegally obtaining five million square meters of land in Ain Shokhna without a tender. Fugitive businessman Hisham al-Hazeq was facing the same charges. Garana was sentenced in September 2011 to three years in prison for granting tourism operator licenses to close acquaintances despite government disapproval.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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