Egypt's Court of Ethics demanded today that three members of President Hosni Mubarak's Cabinet be tried for corruption.
In a 162-page statement detailing its verdict a month ago against the late president Anwar Sadat's half-brother Esmat, who was sentenced to jail for corruption and abuse of influence, the Ethics Court named Minister of Supplies Ahmed Nouh, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications Suleiman Mitawalli and Minister of Industry Fuad Abu Zaghla as having made possible the illegal activities of Esmat Sadat and his sons.
The three ministers "have not lived up to the standards of political and executive responsibility due to their laxity and favoring the defendants because of their relationship to the late president," the court's statement said. "Regardless of their status or position they should be faced with these charges, as the slogan of integrity and putting an end to corruption and chasing corruptors and those assisting them must be enforced."
The court statement charged that Nouh personally approved Sadat's importing meat and tomato pate that was not necessary and proved inedible, that Mitawalli allowed the president's relatives to monopolize 70 telephone and telex lines, and that Abu Zaghla, then chairman of the government's iron and steel complex, awarded them all of the iron bars alloted to the private sector despite his awareness of their black-market dealing in construction materials.
The Court of Ethics, created under Sadat as part of a dual legal system, said in the statement that "sorting out these charges is beyond the limits of this court. Thus it leaves the matter up to the authorities." President Mubarak will have to decide whether they will be referred to the Ethics Court, which deals with moral offenses, or to a normal criminal court.
A Cabinet reshuffle to drop the three ministers, whom Mubarak inherited from his predecessor, seems imminent. Their continued presence despite two reshuffles indicates Mubarak's difficulties in reconciling his faithfulness to Sadat's legacy with the slogan of integrity that he raised shortly after he took over.
With a number of top bureaucrats, including senior officials at the ministries of housing and health, also implicated, some analysts believe any move Mubarak makes, short of a purge of corrupt bureaucrats, could affect the popularity he won as a result of ordering the trial of Esmat Sadat.