Sawt al-Umma chief editor cleared of libel charges

An Egyptian court on Wednesday acquitted Wael al-Ibrashi, editor-in-chief of the weekly independent Sawt al-Umma, on libel charges against a civil servant. 

Another editor implicated in the same case was also released of charges.

Vice President of the Administrative Prosecution Authority Abdalla Gamal originally filed the lawsuit against al-Ibrashi and Heba Gafaar, in which he accused them of publishing false, slanderous information about him.

Sawt al-Umma ran the headline "The vice president of the Administrative Prosecution Authority sues the Prime Minister and Minister of Health for declining to approve his request for state-funded medical treatment" in September, in response to the case. 

The accompanying story claimed the plaintiff sought to bring legal charges against the two ministers. Gamal, however, denied that intention.

Al-Ibrashi currently faces another case leveled against him by Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali. Boutros-Ghali claims al-Ibrashi incited the public to disobey the law when he launched a campaign against the previously-issued Real Estate Law.

Al-Ibrashi faces a third libel lawsuit filed by the head of the Bassateen Investigations department for two articles that he wrote under the title "Bassateen Police Station: A slaughterhouse for the poor" and another in which he described the same police station as "a resort for criminals."

An Egyptian court in 2007 sent al-Ibrashi and three additional chief editors to one-year imprisonment for publishing false information that undermines public order. An appeals court, however, reversed the rulings and fined each LE20,000.

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