Top News: Egypt Defense Minister Testifies in Police Trial


 Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi testified at Giza Criminal Court at the Police Academy for 30 minutes Tuesday at the trial of dozens of senior intelligence officers accused of ordering the destruction of important documents. During the session, Sisi denied that the military council or intelligence were informed by the State Security Agency of its actions.


Emad Gad summoned to Shura Council for investigation
The Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) announced on Monday that its leader Emad Gad will not attend the investigation held by the Shura Council, to which he was summoned by the council’s national security committee. Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) leader Saad Omara accused Gad of attempting to topple the regime, create chaos, and obtain support from foreign forces. Omara claimed Gad told the European Parliament in May 2012 that Copts are oppressed in Egypt and requested military intervention in Egypt to assist Copts. [DNE, 4/15/2013]

Gama’al-Islamiya forms coalition including 7 parties and 7 youth movements
The Gama’a and its political Construction and Development party announced a “Coalition for the Poor”  in preparation for contesting the upcoming parliamentary elections, pointing out that the objective of the coalition will be to obtain a third of the seats in the House of Representatives and to participate in the government’s cabinet.Dr. Tarek al-Zomor, head of the political office for the party, said the coalition will include the Watan, Asala, Islah, among other parties and include revolutionary youth. He added the coalition will run candidates in all districts across the country. [AMAY (Arabic), 4/16/2013]


Egypt defence minister testifies in police trial
Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi testified at Giza Criminal Court at the Police Academy for 30 minutes Tuesday at the trial of dozens of senior intelligence officers accused of ordering the destruction of important documents. The defendants in the case stand accused of burning and destroying State Security Investigation Services (SSIS) documents in the wake of the 25 January revolution. During the session, Sisi denied that the military council or intelligence were informed by the State Security Agency of its actions. The military found out about this, as well as about the storming of offices, through social media platforms, he said. Forty police officials are accused of destroying the documents. The court postponed the lawsuit to Wednesday to hear the testimonies of plaintiffs. Journalists were asked to leave the courtroom during El-Sisi’s testimony. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Ahram (Arabic), 4/16/2013]

No real evidence army committed abuses, claims prosecutor
A report by a fact-finding committee appointed by President Mohamed Morsy that had implicated the Armed Forces in torture and other human rights abuses against protesters during the 25 January revolution did not, in fact, contain any evidence that the military had committed such acts, claimed Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah on Monday. Parts of the report had been leaked by the London-based newspaper the Guardian last week. Abdallah claimed the leaks were misleading, and the report only “had intimations that could not be interepreted as evidence.” “This is up to the military judiciary to look into,” he said. [Egypt Independent, 4/15/2013]

Egyptian policeman receives 15-year imprisonment for torturing a Salafi to death
Alexandria Criminal Court sentenced Osama al-Konayyessy, former officer at the dissolved State Security Investigation Service (SSIS), to 15 years in prison and fined him LE10,000 Tuesday. The court found Osama el-Kounayassi guilty of using torture to extract confessions from the man, suspected of involvement in a suicide bombing at a Coptic Christian church over two years ago. El-Kounayassi had earlier won a retrial after another court found him guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment in absentia. Two other defendants were also sentenced to life in prison in absentia while a third man was sentenced to 15 years in a maximum security prison during the 20 December trial. A fourth man was found not guilty and acquitted. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, AP, DNE, 4/16/2013]

Also of interest:
Mubarak detained for 45 days on charges of graft, corruption | Aswat Masriya
Mekki proposes pan-Arab stolen funds court DNE
Okasha acquitted of defamation charges | Egypt Independent


Egypt’s soaring energy subsidy bill to exceed previous estimate
Fuel subsidies will cost Egypt more than 120 billion Egyptian pounds ($17.4 billion) this financial year, above previous estimates, as a falling local currency adds strain to the budget, Oil Minister Osama Kamal told Reuters on Monday. Egypt is under pressure to curb its soaring fuel subsidy bill, which accounts for a fifth of state spending, to secure a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. But Kamal cast doubt on his previous estimate that the cost would hit 120 billion pounds in the 2012/13 fiscal year to June 30. A growing population and a steady decline in the pound have pushed up the subsidy bill for imported energy which was originally budgeted at 95 billion pounds in 2011/12, itself a 40 percent jump from the previous fiscal year. The government has said it will start rationing state-subsidised motor fuel on July 1, the first day of the new financial year. [Reuters, 4/15/2013]

Egypt loan talks end without deal but IMF sees progress
A team from the International Monetary Fund concluded a two week visit to Egypt on Monday without signing a deal on a much-anticipated $4.8 billion loan, but the international lender said progress with Egypt was achieved. "The mission made progress in the discussions with the Egyptian authorities on their economic programme and possible financial support from the IMF," Andreas Bauer, mission chief for Egypt, said in a statement issued a little after Monday midnight Cairo time. The last time an IMF technical team was in Cairo in November 2012, a ‘staff level agreement’ on the same $4.8 billion facility was signed. The loan deal did not come through, however, at the Egyptian government’s request due to domestic instability at the time. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation met on Monday with Al-Wafd Party leaders as part of their recent efforts to engage Egypt’s opposition. [Ahram Online, Reuters/Egypt Independent, AP, DNE, 4/16/2013]

Also of interest:
Rate of unemployment in Egypt up to 13% | Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online
Budget deficit to near LE2 bln in 2013/14 fiscal year | Egypt Independent
Egypt relies on domestic wheat harvest for coming six weeks DNE


Armed Forces provide new equipment for Al-Azhar student accommodation
Minister of Defence Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi approved the delivery of new equipment to Al-Azhar University for student accommodations to improve the quality of the kitchens and lounges, following the recent outbreak of food poisoning in the university’s dormitories early in April. The Armed Forces published a statement regarding the new equipment on its official Facebook page on Sunday, the same day the equipment was delivered. The equipment included “several items of cooking equipment and tools necessary for the preservation and handling of food”, according to the statement. Al-Sisi also approved the formation of a committee to monitor the development of the student accommodation facilities. [DNE, 4/15/2013]


Al-Khosous residents call for release of detainees
Muslims and Christians in Al-Khosous have signed a petition to press for the release of local residents arrested after a recent bout of sectarian violence. The initiative was spearheaded by the General Revolution Coalition to call for Christian-Muslim unity in Egypt. The move comes after the prosecutors renewed the detention of those arrested pending further investigations. Those arrested face a range of charges including burning private property and places of worship, thuggery, using firearms, acts of intimidation, and inciting strife. Khaled Mahmoud, a lawyer taking part in the initiative, claimed those arrested were not involved in the violence and live away from the scene of clashes. [Ahram Online, 4/15/2013]

Also of interest:
Madinet Al-Salam Residents protest outside Cairo Governorate building DNE
Islamic Jihad: Judges are destroying nation | Egypt Independent


Egypt asks Canada to clarify meeting with Israel
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the Canadian Charge d’Affairs to explain why the Canadian foreign minister met with a member of the Israeli government in East Jerusalem. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry explained this could make Canada “complicit in Israeli violations as an occupying force”. The ministry statement said that because the meeting took place in East Jerusalem, Canada displayed “an implicit recognition of illegal Israeli attempts to annex East Jerusalem”. [DNE, 4/16/2013]

British report: ‘Issues of concern’ remain in Egypt
British Foreign Secretary William Hague launched the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) 2012 Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report. The report, which focused on human rights and democracy in the world, recognised progress in Egypt but points out that “issues of concern remain”. Speaking in London at the launch of the report on Monday, Hague said: “The people of the Middle East are showing incredible courage as they battle for democracy and individual liberty.” On this point he highlighted that the “determination for change has brought the first ever truly democratic presidential elections in Egypt”. Concern was expressed over women’s rights and the constitution citing a lack of “clarity on certain human rights elements”, highlighting that “while it gives Muslims, Christians and Jews the right to practise their religion, it does not give the same freedom to other religions and minority sects”. [DNE, 4/15/2013]

Morsi, Amr hold talks with Eritrea and Sudan
President Mohamed Morsi and Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr met with the Eritrean foreign minister Osman Saleh and the Eritrean presidential adviser for political affairs, Yamani Jabr, in Cairo on Monday to boost bilateral relations between the countries and discuss a number of regional and international issues. All Nile Basin countries should unite around the issue of sharing the Nile’s water, instead of fighting over it, said Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr in a meeting with his Eritrean counterpart Othman Saleh and the Eritrean ambassador in Cairo on Monday. [DNE, Egypt Independent,

Also of interest:
Halayeb and Shalateen are Egyptian land not Sudanese: Presidential spokesperson | Egypt Independent
Ministry of Finance meets US Deputy Trade Minister for International Trade Affairs | DNE

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