Egypt's Court of Cassation [SIS backgrounder], its highest court, on Thursday overturned the jail sentence of former prime minister Ahmed Nazif [JURIST news archive] and ordered a retrial on charges of illicit gains. The court overturned [Daily News Egypt report] his sentence pursuant to Article 166 of Egypt's 2012 Constitution [text, PDF, JURIST report], which states that charges can only be brought against a prime minister in connection with his or her official conduct by the president, the prosecutor general or one-third of the members of the Council of Representatives. The court made this ruling despite the fact that the charges against Nazif were brought before that constitution was ratified. Nazif was sentenced [JURIST report] in September to three years in jail on charges of corruption for allegedly embezzilng $10.5 million during his time in office from 2004 to 2011. No date has been set for his retrial.
Nazif was one of many government officers who served under former president Hosni Mubarak [JURIST news archive] to have faced corruption charges since the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder] led to his ousting. Mubarak himself is currently facing a retrial [JURIST report] on charges of complicity in the murder of more than 800 protesters during the revolution. In April an appeals court ordered that he be released [JURIST report] from prison while awaiting his retrial because he had already served the maximum two years in temporary detention. The former ministers of tourism and housing were acquitted [JURIST report] of corruption charges in March after having been charged with profiteering and illegally selling state-owned land. In 2012 another former prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, was referred for trial [JURIST report] on charges of corruption while in office under Mubarak. Nazif was charged with corruption [JURIST report] in 2011, along with former finance minister Yousef Boutros and former interior minister Habib el Adly.