An Egyptian criminal court on Tuesday convicted the country's former tourism minister, Zoheir Garranah, for corruption and sentenced him to five years in prison. Garranah was found to have sold public land in the Red Sea province below market value to two businessmen. The two businessmen were also found guilty in absentia and also received five-year sentences. The court said that Garranah had illegally allocated the public land to the private developers. He is the second high-ranking state official to be found guilty of corruption since former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile; JURIST news archive] was forced from office in February. More convictions are likely since there are close to two dozen former Mubarak cabinet members and other business people who have been detained [AP report] for alleged corruption thus far, including the former prime minister, the speakers of parliament's two chambers, and Mubarak's two sons.
Prosecutors said last month that Mubarak could face the death penalty [JURIST report] if convicted of ordering attacks on protesters during the demonstrations in Egypt [JURIST news archive] early this year. Mubarak is also facing charges of corruption and embezzlement of public funds. His detention, extended [JURIST report] last month to give authorities more time to decide if they want to send him to jail or a prison hospital, was extended again Tuesday. He is being detained at Sharm el-Sheikh International Hospital after he was hospitalized for heart trouble. Also last month, an Egyptian court ordered that Mubarak's political party be dissolved [JURIST report]. The country's High Administrative Court said It would be illogical for Mubarak's National Democratic Party, which took control in 1978, to remain an entity. The court also liquidated the party's assets. Analysts call the court's decision an important step in the building of a multi-party system, which the country has not had for more than 30 years.