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Former Mubarak-era interior minister acquitted of corruption charges

Habib al-Adly, unpopular because of abuses committed by his security agents, was originally sentence to 12 years in 2011 for corrupt land sales
Protestors call for Habib al-Adly and Mubarak to be hanged in 2011 (Flickr/Hossam el-Hamalawy)

An Egyptian court in Giza acquitted former Hosni Mubarak interior minister Habib al-Adly of corruption Thursday in a retrial after he had been sentenced to 12 years in 2011.

In March 2013, a cassation court ordered the retrial of Adly, who has been convicted of money-laundering and illicitly enriching himself and is already serving a five-year sentence. 

The charges were linked to the sale of land owned by Adly. He tasked police officials with finding a buyer who would pay the highest possible price.

The disgraced ex-minister, who ran Mubarak's security services for more than a decade before a popular uprising overthrew the strongman in 2011, will remain in detention.

Adly was widely unpopular because of abuses committed by his security agents, and rights groups said the torture of suspects was commonplace during his term in office.

In February, a court upheld a three-year jail sentence handed to Adly for taking advantage of his position and forcing police conscripts to work on his private property.

Along with Mubarak, he had been sentenced to life in prison in 2012 over the killings of protesters in the 2011 uprising. A court overturned the verdict on technical grounds and they are now being retried along with six police commanders.

An official enquiry into deaths during the revolt found at least 846 civilians and 26 police officers were killed.

Aziz el-Kessouni, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said he was not surprised that Egypt's courts were clearing Mubarak officials "one by one".

However, el-Kessouni stressed that he doesn't anticipate many more convictions or charges overturned for the former-president's associates.

"How many more would you have to go through? It's not like a lot of them have been sentenced. You've got Mubarak and his sons. They were major targets," he said. "Many of the others have already been released and there's a crop of people currently in office, guilty of crimes probably worse than those committed by the Mubarak regime."

The acquittal, el-Kessouni added, was unlikely to be provocative. 

“The current government is confident enough that it doesn’t need to worry too much about a popular backlash,” he said. “I think Habib al-Adly is outside anyone’s particular focus at this point in time.”

On social media, some made comparisons between Adly's acquittal and the 15-year sentence that political activist Alaa Abd El Fattah received on Wednesday.

An Egyptian court drew international outrage in late April when 683 defendants, accused of involvement in the murder and attempted murder of policemen last August, were sentenced to death following two brief sessions.

On the same day, the court reversed the death sentences of 492 people, charged en masse in March with murdering a police officer. Their sentences were commuted to life in prison.