Mubarak's oil minister, friend jailed for 15 years

Associated Press Modified: June 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm •  Published: June 28, 2012

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court on Thursday ordered a former oil minister and a close friend of ousted President Hosni Mubarak to 15 years in prison after they were convicted of corruption over the sale of natural gas to Israel.

Former Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy and businessman Hussein Salem were charged with harming the country's interests by exporting natural gas to Israel for prices lower than those prevailing on world markets at the time. Salem was tried in absentia. He was on the run for more than a year until he was arrested earlier this year in Spain, where he remains.

Salem allegedly sold Mubarak and his family five luxury villas at a fraction of their market value in return for Salem's landing a lucrative deal to export natural gas to Israel. Mubarak and his sons were found not guilty of corruption charges charge this month because the statute of limitations for the offense had expired.

The former president was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on June 2 for failing to prevent the killing of protesters during last year's uprising that toppled his 29-year regime. His sons remain in prison, facing charges of insider trading.

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