Misdemeanor court hands PM jail sentence

The Dokki Misdemeanor Court on Wednesday sentenced Prime Minister Hesham Qandil to one year in prison and ordered he be removed from office for failing to implement a court ruling annulling a privatization deal.

The court set bail at LE2000.

On 17 December 2011 the Administrative Court nullified the privatization contract for the Nile Cotton Ginning Company — a massive group of factories in several cities along the Nile — after finding that the company was sold for under its initial value.

Shareholders filed an appeal against the verdict on 16 February 2012, while state authorities refused to reabsorb the company into the public sector. Qandil was not prime minister at the time of the ruling, but as head of the government is still responsible for implementing previously issued court verdicts, as Article 79 of the Constitution saying that any refusal on the part of civil servants to enforce court rulings is a "crime punishable by the law."

The Supreme Administrative Court is reviewing the case and is scheduled to reconvene on 3 June.

Several media outlets have incorrectly reported that Wednesday's ruling pertains to a similar privatization case regarding the Tanta Flax and Oils Company. The court acquitted Qandil in that case last week.

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