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Arabic press review: High-ranking Egyptian judge tries to blackmail BMW

Meanwhile Tunisia's vaccine decree is seen as unconstitutional and an international campaign by the Palestinian leadership wants to expose Israel's settlement expansion
The logo of Germany's carmaker BMW is seen at the headquarters building in Munich, southern Germany, on 22 October 2021 (AFP)

Bribery case sparks controversy in Egypt

Sources revealed the details of a major bribery case in Egypt after it was found that one of its parties was a high-ranking judge who tried to blackmail the German BMW car company, according to Arabi21.

The bribery incident began with a communication from the German embassy in Cairo to the Administrative Control Authority, said the Egyptian sources.

The diplomatic memo stated that one of the major German BMW companies had been subjected to attempted extortion, as the accused, Hatem Mohamed Wajih Morsi Fares, requested a financial bribe from the company to take advantage of his position.

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The sources added that the judge asked for two million Egyptian pounds ($127,395) in exchange for using his influence to end transactions related to the company in Egypt, threatening that he would otherwise exercise his influence and disrupt its commercial and financial interests.

The German embassy, in turn, submitted a report to the Administrative Control Authority in Cairo about the incident, confirming that the company had been subject to blackmail by one of the consultants assigned to the Consumer Protection Agency by asking for a bribe.

The German embassy stated that it had received the complaint from BMW and that it had been blackmailed by the legal advisor of one of the largest regulatory bodies in Egypt in exchange for its own commercial transactions, making the commercial climate in Egypt no longer safe.

The embassy demanded in its communication an urgent intervention to prevent escalatory measures on its part, which may amount to withdrawing the company's investments from Egypt.

Subsequently, the Egyptian Administrative Control Authority investigated the incident and requested permission from the Public Prosecution to allow the registration, monitoring and tracking of the accused judge.

The Administrative Control Authority has arrested the counsellor in flagrante delicto, after recorded calls confirmed the bribery incident and his blackmailing of the German company.

Anger in Tunisia over vaccination passport decree

The political class in Tunisia unanimously rejected the Covid-19 "vaccination passport" decree issued by President Kais Saied, according to which non-vaccinated people cannot work, reported the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper.

Many political players considered the presidential decree "unconstitutional", while the Tunisian National Labor Union (UGTT) said it was an attempt to "threaten the livelihoods" of Tunisians.

'Chapter 6 of the decree turns us into robots and factory machinery parts that must be lubricated so that they can continue to serve only'

- Sami al-Tahri, UGTT union

"An unconstitutional and inapplicable decree opens the door to a culture of exclusion, slander, malicious complaints, and bribery in exchange for condoning," said representative Samir Dilou, according to Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

The decree prevents public and private sector employees who do not have a vaccination certificate from entering the workplace until vaccination is completed and a certificate is obtained. In the meantime, the decree states, employees are deprived of their wages during their absence from work.

Representative Hichem al-Ajbouni criticized "the imposition of the permissibility of vaccination without any public discussion and without consulting the Administrative Court, with the inability to appeal the decrees of the President of the Republic.

"Chapter 6 of the decree turns us into robots and factory machinery parts that must be lubricated so that they can continue to serve only,” wrote Sami al-Tahri, a spokesperson for the UGTT. “The threat of cutting off livelihoods due to vaccination, [is a move] we did not see when [employers] refused to pay wages or evaded paying tax and social duties.”

Palestinian campaign to expose settlement expansion

The Palestinian leadership is about to launch an international campaign to confront the escalation of Israeli settlement expansion, calling on the international community to hold Tel Aviv accountable for its aggression against Palestinians, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has said. 

"The settlement programmes that were announced by Israel put the world, especially the United States, in front of great responsibilities to confront and challenge the fait accompli that is being systematically imposed by Israel,” Shatayyeh was quoted as saying by the Palestinian News Agency Wafa.

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"The announcement of the construction of new settlement units and the legalisation of two new settlements in the heart of the old city of Hebron (south of the West Bank) is nothing but a blatant aggression against our land.”

Shatayyeh said suggested President Mahmoud Abbas held an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership on Sunday night to discuss developments and launch an international Palestinian campaign to curb Israel's aggression against Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Palestinian government spokesperson Ibrahim Melhem announced that Shtayyeh started a European tour on Monday to mobilise political and financial support for the Palestinian Authority. Melhem said that the tour will include Shtayyeh's participation in a donor conference in Brussels, a visit to Luxembourg, and the World Climate Conference in the Scottish city of Glasgow.

Melhem explained that the prime minister will urge European countries to support the peace process and to resume support for the Palestinian Authority's budget in light of its stifling financial crisis.

Israeli authorities intend to approve the construction of more than 3,100 settlement units in the occupied West Bank, according to the Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post.

Arabic press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

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