A Cairo criminal court on Thursday acquitted Mubarak-era interior minister Habib al-Adly of corruption charges, paving the way for his release. Adly was cleared of charges of using his political influence to acquire illicit gains amounting to 181 million Egyptian pounds ($23.72 million). 


Sabbahi plans to merge Democratic Current parties into one political front
Sources close to former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi said he is talking to the leaders of the Democratic Current to merge them into one political front. The parties include the Karama Party, the Popular Current Party, the People’s Socialist Alliance Party, the Constitution Party, the Egypt Freedom Party and the Justice Party. Mohamed Bassiouny of the Karama Party, however, said the integration would not change the internal organizational structure of each party. [Egypt Independent, 3/19/2015]

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Mubarak-era interior minister acquitted of corruption, set for release
A Cairo criminal court on Thursday acquitted Mubarak-era interior minister Habib al-Adly of corruption charges, paving the way for his release. Adly was cleared of charges of using his political influence to acquire illicit gains amounting to 181 million Egyptian pounds ($23.72 million). Thursday’s verdict marks the final trial Adly is currently facing, according to his lawyer, Essam al-Batawy, who said his client will be released “within days.” The lawyer said his defendant has completed his sentences, including a three-year jail term on another corruption case for charges related to exploiting policemen and security vehicles for private purposes, and a one-month sentence for failing to uphold an administrative court decision while in office.”[Adly] will be at home in three, four days’ time,” Batawy said. The court on Thursday also ordered that a freeze in funds belonging to Adly and his family be lifted. [Ahram Online, Reuters, AP, Aswat Masriya, 3/19/2015]

Police general, conscript to be tried over concealing evidence in killing of female protester
Egypt’s public prosecutor on Tuesday sent to trial a police general and a conscript for concealing evidence in the fatal killing of a leftist female protester, Shamimaa al-Sabbagh, during a peaceful rally in central Cairo, a judicial source said. The prosecutor said in a statement that the pair, including a major general who the led forces that dispersed the protest, will be tried over charges of denying seeing the suspect while shooting Sabbagh. The source said the charges might be punishable by up to a year in jail. The move came a day after another police officer was charged over the shooting of Sabbagh. [Ahram Online, 3/18/2015]

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Egypt targets 4.5-5 percent growth in 2015-2016
Egypt expects greater investment and ongoing fiscal reforms to boost economic growth in the 2015/16 fiscal year to 4.5-5 percent and shrink its budget deficit to 9.5-10 percent of gross domestic product. In a preliminary statement about next year’s budget Egypt’s finance minister announced that the government would continue to cut subsidies gradually and make cash transfers to the poor, which make up about 40 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people. The country’s budget deficit, long beset by costly fuel and bread subsidies, is set to exceed 10 percent for the same period. Egypt’s current account deficit stood at $4.301 billion between July and December 2014, compared with a deficit of $866.0 million in the same period the previous year, the central bank said on Thursday. [Reuters, Mada Masr, 3/19/2015]

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Rights groups say judges suspended for expressing opinion opposing government
Rights groups say the suspension of forty-one judges aims to send a message to judges to stop expressing their opinions, according to a joint statement by twelve rights groups Wednesday. The statement added that judges are seemingly only able to express opinions if they are an “approval of the current political administration.” The groups condemned the forced retirement of the judges for releasing a statement expressing “their stance on the June 30 uprising and the removal of former President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July.” The statement added that the verdict is not, as stated in the case files, for the judges’ involvement in politics, but “for opinions they expressed in opposition to the current governing.” The undersigned groups include: the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE). [DNE, Mada Masr, 3/18/2015]

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Twenty-eight suspected militants killed in security campaign in North Sinai
A security campaign targeting “extremists” and “terrorist hotbeds” in North Sinai on Thursday left twenty-eight suspected militants killed, the state agency MENA reported. Security forces also arrested six suspects in their campaign in the cities of al-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, MENA reported. Amid intensified campaigns to fight insurgency, especially in North Sinai, the armed forces spokesman said on March 1 that the military had killed 173 people, whom it described as “terrorists” in February. One-hundred and fifteen more “terrorists” were killed during the first two weeks of March, the spokesman said. [Aswat Masriya, 3/19/2015]

Two killed in attack on Giza youth center
Two people were killed in an attack on a youth center in the neighborhood of Kerdasa in Giza early Thursday, a civil protection official said. Magdy al-Shalaqani, director of the civil protection administration in Giza, told Aswat Masriya the Nahia Youth Centre caught fire after unidentified assailants attacked it with Molotov cocktails. The center was burnt to the ground. Explosives experts moved to the scene of the attack, Shalaqani said, adding that they could not find any explosive devices. [Aswat Masriya, 3/19/2015]

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Sisi to fly to Ethiopia to resolve differences over Renaissance Dam
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is flying to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Monday to resolve the remaining differences over the Renaissance Dam, before the signing of the “Declaration of Principles” framework agreement in Khartoum. The draft agreement was amended to ensure Egypt’s rights to 55.5 billion cubic meters of Nile water, while additional amendments reduced the dam’s 74 billion cubic meter storage capacity. Sources said the draft proposed binding mechanisms for the three countries, obliging them to implement the findings of the international consultancies that will soon be announced. Mohamed Abdel Rahman, head of the National Council for the Affairs of Farmers and Agricultural Producers, said Sisi’s visit confirms that contentious issues can be solved through dialogue. [Egypt Independent, 3/19/2015]

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