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Nation & World

Egypt's Mubarak questioned over alleged gifts

CAIRO – An Egyptian prosecutor placed a new detention order on Hosni Mubarak on Saturday after the ousted ex-president was questioned over valuable gifts he allegedly received from the country's top newspaper as a show of loyalty while he was in power, a security official said.

The public funds prosecutor ordered Mubarak to be held for 15 days pending investigation, the official said. The former president is already serving a life sentence after being convicted for failing to stop killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising that overthrew him. But he is scheduled to hear a ruling on his appeal on Sunday, and the detention order could prevent him from walking free pending retrial were the appellate court to rule in his favor.

He was moved to a Cairo military hospital last month after slipping inside a prison bathroom and injuring himself.

The security official says Mubarak was questioned over watches, pens, bags, belts and jewelry he reportedly received from the official Al Ahram newspaper.

The official did not say if any charges were pending over the alleged gifts. He spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak to media.

The list of gifts is long and includes 36 named recipients, including Mubarak's wife Suzanne, his two sons, and his top associates including former information minister Safwat el-Sherif and former prime minister Ahmed Nazif, according to the daily el-Shorouk.

The website for Al Ahram carried an official report estimating the value of the gifts at some six million Egyptian pounds, approximately $1 million. The newspaper said that "Al Ahram Gifts" was a ritual when the newspaper was run by Mubarak-era loyalists. Its management was changed following the uprising.

Lawyers for the Mubarak family, for Nazif and for Sherif could not immediately be reached for comment.

Many former members of Mubarak's regime have been charged with corruption or the killing of protesters during the uprising. Some are serving jail terms, others are detained pending trials, and others have been released after charges were dropped.

Prosecutors have so far been unable to convict Mubarak or his immediate family on corruption charges, although the two sons are still standing trial.

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