3 top Mubarak cronies banned from leaving Egypt

AP News
Posted: Mar 31, 2011 2:26 PM
3 top Mubarak cronies banned from leaving Egypt

Egypt's Justice Ministry on Thursday imposed a travel ban on three top associates of former President Hosni Mubarak, citing corruption suspicions, in the latest move against the pillars of the old regime.

The three men were among the most powerful figures in the previous government and the lack of legal moves against them five weeks after the president had stepped down, had raised suspicions that they would escape investigations being carried out against so many others.

The legal pursuit of former regime officials are for many Egyptians one of the key achievements of their 18-day revolution that topped Mubarak on Feb. 11.

Parliament speaker Fathi Surour, presidential chief of staff Zakariya Azmi, and ruling party head Safwat el-Sherif were some of the closest cronies of Mubarak and controlled access to him.

"This decision comes in light of revelations from investigations conducted by oversight bodies regarding the wealth they amassed," prosecutor Assem al-Gawhari told the official news agency.

He added that the men's wives were also banned from leaving the country, suggesting officials fear the men will pass on assets to their spouses to dodge corruption charges.

Al-Gawhari said he also requested that Cairo Appeals Court to urgently convene and consider a request to gain access to the men's Egyptian bank accounts.

Issandr el-Amrani, a long time analyst on Egypt, said while the travel ban was a good start, it did not address a chief complaint of many Egyptians _ that the current ruling military council did not appear to have a broad system to address the old regime's corruption.

"The interim government doesn't seem to want to carry out special investigations into corruption. They are letting courts handle this, which is a probably a mistake," el-Amrani said.

Last week, Egypt's prosecutor general made an unprecedented sweep against the top security brass, charging the former interior minister and other officials with aiding the killing and the attempted killing of hundreds of protesters during the uprising.

A number of other top officials in the ruling party and former ministers have been slapped with travel bans pending investigations.