Spain's attorney general has asked that Egyptian business tycoon Hussein Salem be kept under house arrest after paying a bail of 27 million euros, for fear he might flee, according to Spanish judicial sources.
Meanwhile, dozens of Egyptians protested to call for Salem's extradition to Egypt.
An informed Egyptian source told Al-Masry Al-Youm that Egypt requested Salem's detention after a Spanish judge decided he should be released. Egypt said Salem was dangerous, and that the bail was was too low considering the size of Salem’s wealth and the crimes he is suspected to have committed in Egypt.
The source said the Spanish judiciary is independent and not influenced by foreign requests, adding however that it may have taken Egypt's concerns into consideration when it ordered the house arrest.
The source also said that actions taken in Egypt to call for the return of Salem for trial here bolster the government’s position in calling for his extradition. “We have stressed that the whole of Egypt is following up closely on this case,” the source said.
”Spain is cooperating well with us on this case in accordance with the law and it is not hiding anything.”
The source pointed out that Salem’s seized money can only be returned when he has been convicted.
The source said Salem will be required to pay huge bails for crimes committed in Spain, but he is unlikely to get a long prison sentence, or if he is handed one it may be suspended.
The source added that if the Spanish judiciary strips him of Spanish nationality that ruling may be challenged before the European Court. Spanish judges consider this possibility before issuing a ruling.
There are no extradition agreements between Egypt and Spain, but the former is calling for Salem’s handover on the basis of the UN Anti-Corruption Treaty, which states that criminals may be handed over if states both agree, the source added.
The source further said that if Salem did not have Spanish nationality, his extradition would have been easier. Salem is using every loophole in the law to cast doubt on Egypt’s right to have him handed over, for example claiming he is being subjected to a campaign of persecution in Egypt, the source went on.
A researcher from The Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB), meanwhile, said if Salem does not have strong connections with important figures in Spain the Spanish judiciary may, with a little pressure from the Egyptian government, agree to extradite him.
The researcher said Spain is currently keen on having strong relations with post-revolution Egypt because it is aware that Egypt is currently the key to the Middle East. He said he expects relations between the two countries to become stronger.
Translated from the Arabic Edition