مصر : انهيار دولة القانون وفرض العدالة الثورية
انهيار دولة القانون وفرض العدالة الثورية.. كان هذا عنوان الملف الذي تقدمت به ابنة "أحمد عز" إلى البرلمان الأوروبي مدعومة بوفد من المحامين البريطانيين رفيعي المستوى.
بفلوسي يا كلاب! نعم عزيزي المواطن الكحيان.. بفلوسي وبفلوسك.. بملياراتك المنهوبة ابنة "أحمد عز" تطلق حملة دولية تهدف لاعتبار والدها سجينا سياسيا! بينما يحاكم عسكريا أبناؤنا ممن تظاهروا أمام سفارة العدو الصهيوني اعتراضا على مقتل جنودنا على الحدود فلا يجدون من ينصفهم.. ابنة "أحمد عز" تجند وفداً من أكفأ المحامين وأعلاهم أجراً على مستوى العالم لتدويل قضية أبيها باعتباره ضحية من ضحايا الثورة!
بدأت القصة باتصال من صديق دبلوماسي أوروبي رفيع المستوى يسألني عن "أحمد عز" فقلت فيه ما قال مالك في الخمر.. فأخبرني أن البرلمان الأوروبي أرسل يستشيره في ملف تقدمت به ابنة "أحمد عز" إليهم وأن الفتاة داهية كأبيها واستطاعت إقناع العديد من الساسة والحقوقيين المخضرمين ببراءة أبيها واستحقاق قضيته للتدويل! وأن الرجل من خبرته بشئون الشرق الأوسط يعرف عن "أحمد عز" غير ذلك ولا يريد أن يرانا نفاجأ بمثل هذا الأمر ويريدنا أن نستعد ونتصدى له.. طلبت منه موافاتي بالمستندات فتفضل مشكوراً بإرسال الملف إليّ كاملاً ووعدني بنقل رأيه في "أحمد عز" لمن طلبوا مشورته ولكنه حذرني في الوقت نفسه أن الفتاة تستعين بوفد عالي المستوى من المحامين البريطانيين وأنها طرقت أبواب منظمات وهيئات دولية عدة غير البرلمان الأوروبي.
صدق الرجل وعده واستلمت الملف وأخذت أقرأه بنهم.. محامو "أحمد عز" باختصار يتهمون المجلس العسكري بمحاكمة "أحمد عز" وغيره من "أعمدة الاقتصاد المصري" سياسيا ويصفون محاكمته بأنها "محكمة ثورة" لا محاكمة عادية.. كما يذهبون لاتهام المجلس العسكري بالتأثير على القضاء المصري ودفعه لإدانة "عز" تهدئة للشارع المصري.. ويصورون "أحمد عز" وغيره من رجال مبارك المحبوسين بطرة ككباش فداء أبرياء تمت التضحية بهم إرضاء للثوار.
يستند الملف إلى النقاط التاليه في محاكمة "أحمد عز" ويطالب على أثرها المجتمع الدولي بإعادة النظر في موقفه من الحكومة المصرية وتوجهاتها الديمقراطية.. بل يذهبون أبعد من ذلك للقول بأن كل الشواهد تدل على أن "أحمد عز" لا فرصة له في محاكمة عادلة داخل مصر.. أي أنهم يطلبون إعادة محاكمته خارج مصر! بفلوسك برضو..
1- حقيقة أن ثلاث رجال أعمال آخرين ممن ألغيت تصاريح الطاقة الخاصة بهم في نفس القضية المتهم فيها "أحمد عز" لم يتعرضوا لأي مساءلة جنائية.
2- تصريح نسبوه إلى القاضي الموكل بقضية "أحمد عز" قال فيه أنه لا يستطيع منح محامو "عز" وقتاً أطول لمراجعة ملف اتهام "أحمد عز" المكون من 2500 صفحة خوفاً من عقاب وزير العدل.
3- رفض المحكمة إطلاق سراحه بكفالة أثناء المحاكمة أسوة بالمتهمين في قضايا مماثله.
4- رفض المحكمة منح هيئة الدفاع حق جلب شهود نفي ومنع هيئة الدفاع من سرد دفاعها كاملاً.
5- رفض المحكمة كل حلول التسوية البديلة المعتاده في قضايا المخالفات الإجرائية والتي عرضها محامو المتهم.
6- سرعة إجراءات المحاكمة إرضاءا للشارع على حساب العدالة.
يسهب الملف في سرد إنجازات "أحمد عز" وكيف ساعد أهالي دائرته وارتقى بهم صحياً وثقافيا -ليت وفداً من البرلمان الأروبي يزور دائرته - التقيت أنا شخصياً بعض أهالي دائرة "أحمد عز" والذين أسهبوا في سرد إنجازات "العز" -كما يطلقون عليه- الحقيقية.. تحدثت إليَ "نصرة" الفلاحة البسيطة التي تخدم في المنازل سراً حتى لا يعرف أهل قريتها كيف تدنى بها الحال.. أخبرتني عن "العز" الذي كانت تأتي سيارات الشرطة صبيحة الانتخابات فتجمع أهالي القرية قسرا من منازلهم وتلقي بهم في سيارات الشرطه "البوكس" وتذهب بهم إلى مقار الاقتراع وتجبرهم على انتخاب "العز".. "نصرة" حفظت القرآن في "الكتّاب" وكانت تدعو على "العز" في صلاتها وترى أن الله قد استجاب دعاء أهل قريته عليه بقيام هذه الثورة المباركة.
أترك الملف كاملاً بين أيديكم لتروا مستقبل محاكمات رؤوس النظام السابق.. كما أترككم مع سؤال بسيط.. لماذا لا يعمل المجلس العسكري على استرداد أموال مصر المنهوبة؟ وكيف يحدثنا عن عجلة الإنتاج وأضرار الإضراب الذي يحدث في كل دول العالم المتقدمه والمتخلفه ولم يسبق في التاريخ أن هدم دولة! هل تعلم عزيزي المواطن أن أول إضراب موثق في التاريخ قام به أجدادك الفراعنه اعتراضا على تأخر أجور بناة الهرم! واستجاب الفرعون لمطالب المضربين ولم يتهمهم بمحاولة هدم حضارة الفراعنة ولم يحدثهم عن دورهم التاريخي في بناء الهرم وبالتأكيد لم يتهمهم بتلقي تمويل من الهكسوس أعداء الوطن!
كيف يجرؤ هؤلاء على الحديث عن انهيار الاقتصاد وهم لا يحركون ساكناً لاسترداد مليارات مصر المنهوبة بالخارج.. عام كامل مر على الثورة.. عام كامل ولم نسترد دولارا واحدا بل وترجونا الدول أن نتقدم بأوراقنا خشية ضياع النقود فلا نتحرك! أي تواطؤ وأي خسه؟! أيظن عاقل أن النقود مازالت في أماكنها؟ بالطبع تبددت النقود وتبددت معها آمال المصريين في محاكمة اللصوص وفي استخدام الأموال لإعادة بناء ما هدمه رجال مبارك! ولا أستبعد بعد أن أعيد توزيع النقود أن يخرج علينا أحدهم ببيان يقول أنه ثبت عدم وجود أي أموال منهوبة بالخارج وأن الرئيس وعصابته كانوا عفاف اليد؟!
وبينما يحفر "أحمد عز" بملياراته تحت أسوار طرة.. نسمع نحن محاضرات عن وجوب التنازل عن أحلامنا المؤجلَة في الديمقراطية كي نتفرغ لدفع عجلة الإنتاج.
وكأن قدر مصر هو الفقر والإفقار لأنها ليست "بنت عز".
Egypt: A Breakdown in the Rule of Law
and the Imposition of Revolutionary JusticeRelease8
The aftermath of the Egyptian revolution gave rise to profound political uncertainty. While the recent referendum on amendments to the Egyptian constitution ensures elections will take place later this year, their outcome remains unclear and is subject to significant debate.
Following President Hosni Mubarak’s fall from power, the state prosecutor pursued charges against a number of former Mubarak officials and prominent businessmen. In just five weeks, hundreds of business leaders who formed the backbone of the Egyptian economy for decades were arrested, imprisoned and charged.
As a direct result of his business success, parliamentary leadership (2000-2011), and political affiliation with the National Democratic Party, the former political party of Mr. Mubarak, Ahmed Ezz unfairly became a symbol of the “old Egyptian regime.” Mr. Ezz was arrested on February 17, 2011 and, after a hasty investigation, indicted on February 22nd for alleged violations of laws regulating energy licenses. On flimsy allegations he was rushed to trial in May and June, and was sentenced to ten years imprisonment and fines on September 15th. The verdict also revoked two government licences issued to his steel companies and the licences issued to three other Egyptian steel manufacturers. Mr Ezz denied any wrongdoings and appealed the sentence.
In June 2011 a second set of charges was referred for trial, relating to the purchase of a controlling interest in a steel public listed company in 1999-2000. That trial started in November 2011.
Despite being unfairly maligned in the revolutionary frenzy as one of the "most hated men in Egypt," the charges against Mr. Ezz, even if proven, constitute no more than technical regulatory violations. The prosecutors cannot and have not alleged any complicity in acts of violence or oppression.
Mr. Ezz remains in custody at the Cairo Tora prison. His politically motivated prosecution is marked by egregious telltale violations of his rights to equal treatment and fair trial. The charges are unsubstantiated, legally defective and politically motivated.
The injustices Mr. Ezz has faced pose serious questions about his ability to receive a fair trial in Egypt. Actions by the Egyptian authorities thus far indicate that any prosecution of Mr. Ezz is unfairly influenced by the revolutionary fervour currently targeting politicians and businessmen associated with the previous regime.
The coming months are crucial. If Egypt is to transition into the liberal democratic society, it cannot afford to overlook the need for transparent and fair justice.
It is imperative that those arrested since the revolution are afforded the rights to free and fair justice enjoyed by citizens in democracies throughout the world. Without access to a fair and transparent judicial process, these individuals become economic and political prisoners. Such actions are in breach of Egypt’s obligations to international treaties and covenants and the Egyptian people as well.
I. EGYPT TODAY
On January 25, 2011, Egyptians took to the streets in protest. The government of President Hosni Mubarak was forced to surrender to the demands of the street.
Following Mubarak’s fall from power, on February 11th, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces dissolved the Parliament, suspended the constitution and issued a proclamation empowering itself to temporarily lead the country until free elections could be held. The present leadership of the country therefore lies with the members of the Council.
We cast no doubt here on the Council’s intention to arrange democratic elections or to maintain peace and stability in the country in the interim. However, in these circumstances and in the light of the suspension of the constitution, the fundamental principles of a state based on the rule of law – including the independence of the state’s judiciary and law officers – will not be fully guaranteed.
Shortly after assuming power, the Supreme Council directed the state prosecutor to pursue charges against a number of former Mubarak officials and businessmen. In the immediate aftermath of the revolution, hundreds of business leaders, who had been the backbone of the Egyptian economy for decades, were arrested, imprisoned and charged1.
Broader challenges to human rights and the rule of law have been witnessed in recent weeks and are not confined to high-profile individuals associated with the previous regime. Of concern are the hundreds of ordinary Egyptians who face unexplained travel bans and are subject to restrictions on their freedom of movement. This confluence of events is profoundly troubling.
A hasty call for vengeance threatens the democratic aspirations that were championed by protestors in Tahrir Square. These goals include establishing a transparent society which practices due process and maintains a fair and transparent legal system.
1 Daily Telegraph 20.3.11, Egypt investigates top business people with links to Mubarak regime http://tinyurl.com/6ga8w28
The following timeline incorporates the key events in recent months in Egypt.
- Beginning January 25th 2011, over 50,000 protesters occupy Tahrir Square calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.
- January 29th – President Mubarak orders the dissolution of his cabinet and replaces various ministers, including Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and Trade and Industry Minister Rahid Mohammed Rashid – both of whom have subsequently been charged with corruption-related offenses.
- February 3rd – Egypt’s prosecutor general Abdel Meguid Mahmoud freezes the bank accounts and imposes a travel ban on Ahmed Ezz and a number of former ministers and officials. These officials include Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, Housing Minister Ahmed el-Maghrabi and Tourism Minister Zuhair Garana. In a public statement Mr. Mahmoud appears to link the measures explicitly to public unrest at that time. The state news agency MENA quotes him saying that Mr. Ezz and the others have been, “banned from travelling abroad while their bank accounts have been frozen until security is reinstated, and until investigative authorities conduct probes to establish who was criminally and administratively responsible for all those events.” He also says the travel ban would last “until national security is restored and the authorities and monitoring bodies have undergone their investigations.”
- February 4th – The news agency Reuters reports “Not over yet, Egypt protests claim political scalps.” It refers to Mr. Ezz and Mr. al-Adly, saying, “Seeking to absorb popular anger, President Hosni Mubarak has ostracized both of them in a shake-up that has resonated with some but fallen well short of protesters’ main demand: the immediate departure of Mubarak himself.”
- February 7th – The website of the Indian television company NDTV runs a report entitled “The Man Egypt Loves to Hate.” The report referred to the fact that the headquarters of the Ezz steel companies had been set on fire three times over the preceding month, linking it to the Egyptian people’s “anger on symbols of the state.” The report quoted analysts as saying, “the focus of investigations now, including Mr. Ezz, is at best selective, intended not to punish corruption, but to address public grievances without actually changing the system. Casting out Mr. Ezz, who had tense relations with the old guard in the party, appears part of a strategy on many fronts to try to survive.”
- February 8th – The website of the Financial Times runs a report with the headline “Graft probe seeks to appease Egyptian public.” It said, “In what many see as a cynical move aimed at appeasing an angry public without making political concessions to protesters calling for change, the state prosecutor has announced he is investigating for corruption four ministers and a former senior official of the ruling National Democratic Party [Mr. Ezz], most of whom have business backgrounds.”
- February 11th – President Mubarak resigns. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces issues a statement that dissolved the Parliament of Egypt and suspended Egypt’s constitution.
- February 16th – The Wall Street Journal runs a report entitled “Corruption casehold collects in Cairo.” It quotes a Cairo-based lawyer as saying, “officials in the prosecutor’s office have told him that the military has handed them boxes filled with documents implicating several former ministers and politically connected businessmen in corruption,” and adds that “lawyers said the files were kept for Mr. Mubarak to settle scores when needed during his rule.” It concludes, “The feeding-frenzy atmosphere
surrounding the complaints has led some lawyers and analysts to question if they are seeing a serious crackdown on corruption or an effort by interim authorities to soothe public rage at the ousted regime.”
- February 17th – Mr. Mahmoud orders the detention of Mr. Ezz and the three ministers. A Reuters report on the arrests says, “Suspicion of official graft helped fuel popular anger that led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak last week. The charges are seen as a move by the army-led interim government to quell the unrest.”
- February 21th – Mr. Mahmoud announces asset freezes and travel bans against former President Mubarak, his wife, his sons and their wives.
- March 3rd – Former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik resigns, the day before large protests against him were planned.
- March 5th – The trial of the former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly begins.
- March 8th –Reuters runs a report on Mr. Ezz with the subheading, “Charges against him seen as a concession to quell unrest.” It also says that Mr. Ezz “was among top targets of protesters driven by complaints about poverty, corruption and political repression. His resignation last month from the National Democratic Party (NDP) was met with cheers.”
- April 8th – Further protests took place in Tahrir Square. Among the demands were the resignations of the remaining members of former President Mubarak’s regime and of the public prosecutor, Mr. Mahmoud, because of the perceived slow pace of investigations of allegedly corrupt officials.
- April 13th – Mr. Mahmoud orders the detention of former President Mubarak and his sons.
- April 16th – The Higher Administrative Court dissolves the NDP and orders its funds and property handed over to the government.
- April 20th – Former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and former Finance Minister Youseff Boutros-Ghali are charged with irregularities in procuring vehicle licenses and costing the state 92 million Egyptian pounds in lost revenue.
- April 21st – Amnesty International publishes a report entitled, “Time For Justice: Egypt’s corrosive system of detention.” The report looks at human rights violations in cases of detainees in Egypt.
- April 28th – Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that the Egyptian military had tried over 5,000 civilians in military courts since February.
- April 28th – The wives of Gamal and Alaa Mubarak faces questioning on illicit gains.
- May 5th – Habib al-Adli, Egypt’s former interior minister, is sentenced to 12 years in prison for money laundering and profiteering.
- May 6th – Egyptian judges announce they will not attend court in protest to the harassment and attacks they have been subjected to. The judges then reverse this decision, but give the armed forces a week to guarantee court security.
- May 7th – The trial of Ahmed Ezz begins.
- May 10th – Egypt’s former tourism minister, Zuheir Garranah, and two businessmen, Hesham el Hazik and Hussain el Siguany, are sentenced to five years in jail on charges of corruption.
- May 13th – Suzanne Mubarak is detained on suspicion of illegally acquiring wealth.
- May 16th – Ahmed Ezz resigns the chairmanship of Ezz Dekheila Steel.
- May 18th – Suzanne Mubarak is released from detainment after agreed to hand over disputed assets.
- May 23rd – CNN reports that an Egyptian police officer has been sentenced to death for killing protesters. This is the first time the death penalty has been handed out following the revolution.
- May 25th – It is announced that former President Hosni Mubarak and his sons will go on trial and face charges of intentional murder, attempted murder of demonstrators, abuse of power to intentionally waste public funds and unlawfully profiting from public funds for them and others.
- June 4th – The Washington Post publishes an editorial, ‘Egypt’s revolutionary justice,’ criticizing Egypt’s decision to put Mubarak on trial before the country holds democratic elections.
- June 6th – It is reported that Youssef Boutros-Ghali has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for profiteering and abusing state and private assets.
- June 29th – People gather in Tahrir Square to demand that Egyptian police officers speed up the trials of policemen charged with brutality during the revolution.
- July 14th – Almost 700 senior police officers in Egypt are removed from their jobs over the killing of protesters.
- August 3rd – The trial of Hosni Mubarak is set to begin, but postponed until August 15th. He is charged with corruption and the killing of protesters.
- August 12th – It is announced that Amin Abaza, Egypt’s former agriculture minister, will stand trial for unlawfully seizing land in the Sinai peninsula.
- -August 15th – The trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak begins.
- September 7th – Top two officers in the ruling military council are asked to testify at Mubarak’s trial.
- September 8th – Top officials are implicated in ordering force against demonstrators in the trial of Hosni Mubarak.
- September 9th – Protesters topple wall surrounding the Israeli embassy in Cairo following a rally demanding a quick transition to civilian rule.
- September 15th – Ahmed Ezz is sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined the equivalent of $111 million on corruption charges. In absentia former Minister of Commerce Rachid Mohamed Rachid is sentenced to 15 years in prison and a $230 million fine for illegally granting energy licences. Additionally, the former head of Egypt’s Industrial Development Authority is sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $111 million fine for helping Mr. Ezz obtaining energy licences.
- September 22nd – The Revolution Youth Coalition, which played a major role in Egypt’s revolution, announces that it will field political candidates in the upcoming elections in order to counter organized Islamist groups and supporters of the former regime.
- October 2nd – Military leaders agree to allow foreign election observers and let political parties have a greater role in creating a permanent government by signing an agreement with a variety of political parties.
- October 5th – Current military rulers announce they will not offer a candidate in Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections.
- October 9th – In the most violent protest since the revolution in February, 24 people are killed and 200 are wounded in a protest against the ruling military council after Christians became angry at the torching of a church.
- October 12th – Egypt’s Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi resigns following the October 9th protest.
- October 14th – Members of the current military government indicate that they plan to retain full control of the Egyptian government, even after the parliamentary elections in November, saying the military council would appoint the prime minister and cabinet.
- November – International Bar Association release report outlining challenges and obstacles facing the Egyptian legal profession, specifying client defense and significant breaches of due process by the Egyptian courts.
- November 18th – Thousands of Islamists assemble in Tahrir Square, the largest gathering since February, to show their dislike of the ruling military council.
- November 22nd – Egypt’s cabinet offers to resign after three days of protests.
- November 29th – The first round of parliamentary elections since the resignation of former President Mubarak.
- November 30th – The second round of voting in Egypt’s parliamentary elections takes place, with the Muslim Brotherhood posing a challenge to the current ruling military council. In early results the Muslim Brotherhood wins 40 percent of the vote.
- December 5th – Turnout falls for voting in the runoff elections to decide the first round of parliamentary voting.
- December 15th - El Ahram quotes Justice Ahmed El Zend, head of Egypt Legal Society, as saying that in the post-revolution era judges issued some judgments which could be seen as irregular in fear for their lives.
- December 24th – The official parliamentary elections results are announced. The Freedom and Justice Party led by ideals of the Muslim Brotherhood wins the most seats (232) about 41 percent of the 498 elected seats in the assembly's lower house, while the Nour party, allied to Salafists, wins 113 seats, or 23 percent.
- December 25th - A story in El Ahram Weekly refers to the Cairo criminal court decision of September 15th to annul the licences of five steelmakers including Ezz steel companies. The article cites that “The decision was seen by many as a political one as in a part it targeted steel business tycoon and former president Mubarak's friend, tycoon Ahmed Ezz, who got two of the cancelled licences for free in 2008.”
- January 16th – Human Rights Watch urges Egypt’s new parliament to amend abusive laws.
III. THE CASE OF AHMED EZZ
Timeline of the Politically Driven Prosecution of Mr. Ezz
Ahmed Ezz was arrested on February 17th 2011, indicted by Egypt’s public prosecutor after five days, tried by June and sentenced on September 15th to 10 years imprisonment and fines. He remains in custody at the Cairo Tora prison. He was denied bail and house arrest.
The political motivation for charging Mr. Ezz is apparent in the trampling of his rights as a defendant:
- On February 17th Mr. Ezz was arrested following complaints stemming from the post-January 25th revolution by various Egyptians - including ex-political opponents, business competitors and “revolutionary” committee heads. The allegations were that Mr. Ezz (through his companies) improperly profiteered from state-issued energy licences to those firms. The investigations led by Egypt public prosecutors were closed after five days with a February 22nd indictment, which included ex-Minister of Industry Rashid bin Rashid and a past senior committee member at the ministry of industry. The prosecution’s evidence was withheld from defence’s lawyers until just weeks before trial.
- Mr. Ezz and his co-defendants were tried before the Cairo criminal court over two weeks in May and June 2011. On September 15th 2011, Mr. Ezz was sentenced by the Cairo criminal court to 10 years imprisonment and was ordered to pay 660 million Egyptian pounds ($111 million) fine. The verdict also revoked two licences issued to his steel companies and licences issued to three other Egyptian steel manufacturers. It is stressed that those other manufacturers were never prosecuted while having been granted similar licenses as the ones issued to Ezz steel companies.
An international observer at the trial witnessed numerous breaches of due process and flagrant violations of Mr. Ezz’s fundamental rights to a fair trial.
- Mr. Ezz was separately investigated by Egypt public prosecutors for acquiring (through his companies) shares improperly in a steel company minority-owned by the Egyptian state. He was indicted on June 26th 2011, along with Mr Mohamedein, a 91-year-old former minister of industry, and managers of the Ezz steel companies. At a hearing in October, the Learned Judge rejected a request from counsels to Mr. Ezz for an adjournment of the trial to enable them to review 25,000 pages of evidence recently submitted by the prosecution. The Learned Judge justified publicly his decision by his fear to be sanctioned by the Minister of Justice. Counsels to Mr. Ezz have subsequently petitioned the Court of Appeal to recuse the Judge arguing that his statement unarguably proved that the Judge was not sufficiently independent from the executive authorities to be able to fairly hear the case. The Court of Appeal will issue its decision on February 14th.
- Mr. Ezz remains in custody at the Cairo Tora prison. His politically motivated prosecution is marked by egregious telltale violations of his rights to equal treatment and fair trial. The charges alleged are unsubstantiated, legally defective and politically motivated. Moreover, Ezz's fundamental right to a fair trial and equal protection of law has been flagrantly denied, as shown by:
(1) A rashly hasty and defective investigation and indictment, calculated solely to appease the “street;”
(2) Denial of any judicial hearing on bail or other reasonable alternatives to pretrial confinement;
(3) Denial of minimal discovery or timely access to the investigative file until literally the eve of trial, thereby depriving him of the fundamental right to prepare and present his defense;
(4) Denial of the right to produce exculpatory evidence or witnesses at trial, or to fully and fairly present his defense to prove his innocence;
(5) The unfair and grossly disparate treatment of Mr. Ezz as a human being and citizen of Egypt, while other individuals and companies identically situated were permitted to resolve similar allegations through administrative sanctions such as license revocations and disqualification.
(6) Denial of customarily available alternatives to criminal prosecution and imprisonment for these types of corporate technical violations.
In an open letter to the Egyptian people, Mr Ezz wrote:
“I strongly urge both the people and the media not to assume guilt based on rumours and perceptions. I refute all of the allegations brought against me and I know that a fair and proper legal process would prove my innocence. In this unprecedented time for the country, it is important to remember what our youth are calling for: freedom, fairness and democracy. My hope is that this commitment to a bright future for Egypt is not undermined at its first hurdle through a desire to find scapegoats. I truly hope that I can at least depend on a full representation of the facts, due legal process and a fair trial.”
The injustices Mr. Ezz has faced pose serious questions about his ability to receive a fair trial. Actions by the Egyptian authorities thus far indicate that any prosecution of Mr. Ezz are unfairly influenced by the revolutionary fervour currently targeting politicians and businessmen associated with the previous regime.
Background to the first case against Ahmed Ezz
The case brought by the Egyptian public prosecutor against Mr. Ezz alleged that he conspired with a public servant (his co-defendant Amr Assal, then head of the Industrial Development Authority (IDA)) in Mr. Assal’s improper grant of licences to companies within the Ezzsteel group, of which Mr. Ezz is majority shareholder and former chairman. The third accused party, tried in abstentia, is former Trade and Industry Minister Rashid Mohamed Rashid. The prosecutors’ case was that Mr. Rashid, as the minister responsible, and Mr. Assal, as head of the competent committee, made a decision they were not entitled to make, namely to grant to Ezz steel companies free energy licences to produce steel products.
Mr. Ezz was found guilty of those charges by the Cairo District Court. The court also revoked two licences issued to Ezz steel companies and separate licences issued to three other Egyptian steel manufacturers. It is stressed that the other steelmakers were never prosecuted despite having been granted licenses similar to those granted to the Ezz companies. It is submitted that the reasoning of the court which merely consisted in endorsing the findings of experts appointed by the Ministry of Justice without any further factual enquiry and fair assessment of the case is unsubstantiated, legally defective and politically motivated.
Mr. Ezz has appealed the sentence.
Background to the second case against Ahmed Ezz
The second case includes, among other counts, an allegation that Mr. Ezz conspired with a public servant (Ibrahim Salem Mohamedein, then chairman and managing director of ANSDK (later renamed Ezz Dekheila or EZDK), a minority state-owned company, in improper offer of shares. The case was referred on June 26, 2011 by the public prosecutor to the court.
What is extraordinary about this allegation is the chronology of material facts. The fact that Ezzsteel group, not Mr. Ezz himself, purchased shares in a public listed company is entirely a matter of public record. This purchase was made in full transparency with regard to the relevant regulatory authorities including the Egyptian Stock Exchange and Capital Market Authority.
In the remainder of the second case, the prosecutors allege that after acquiring a controlling stake in EZDK, Mr. Ezz conspired with others in key positions in the company to ensure that they acted in the interests of other companies in the Ezzsteel group, to the detriment of EZDK itself.
Our sole observation on this element of the second case is that it is not at all clear how the prosecutors intend to prove what they allege. The case requires an expert analysis of the fortunes of EZDK over the 10-year period at issue, and rest in part on the ‘counter-factual’ question of what would have resulted had EZDK made decisions other than the ones it made.
Political background to the case against Mr. Ahmed Ezz
The political background of the case raises at least a substantial risk that the cases against Mr. Ezz are not brought on the basis of evidential merit, but to serve political ends. We do not take a position on whether particular individuals have chosen to bring the cases, or brought influence to bear on those who brought them, on the basis of their own political or other interests.
We do not know whether this is the case. In any event, this is neither the only possibility to be considered, nor in the present circumstances necessarily the most likely. Rather, we suggest that against the backdrop of mass public protests in Egypt giving rise to fundamental changes to the leadership of the country, the present
leadership – and in particular, the public prosecutor’s office – is largely compelled to act upon the complaints and demands of the Egyptian people expressed through mass public protest.
The fact that a prosecution follows the complaints and demands of the people does not make it baseless. However, our concern is that these highly unusual circumstances make it more likely that a case can and will be brought to trial – even, perhaps, to conviction – despite not being grounded in evidence.
It is appropriate to be up front about Mr. Ezz’s former position within the National Democratic Party, and the broad political factions that stand to gain or lose from his imprisonment. We do this not because we are sure that one faction or another is responsible for Mr. Ezz’s plight, but to inform foreign decision makers and influencers.
Mr. Ezz joined the NDP in 1989 and became a member of its General Secretariat in 2000. In the same year he was elected as a member of the Egyptian Parliament Assembly for the Menouf Al-Sadat constituency. In 2002 his peers elected him to head up the Membership Secretariat, within the General Secretariat. He was re-elected as an MP in the 2005 election and soon after became chair of the Budget and Finance Committee at the Parliament Assembly and Head of the Organization Secretariat at the NDP, one of the most prominent positions within the General Secretariat. His responsibilities in this role included managing party election campaigns, managing communications across all levels of the NDP and acting as chief whip within Parliament.
Mr. Ezz resigned from the secretary of the NDP in January 2011 in the early days of the Egyptian unrest. His position with the Egyptian Parliament ended in February 2011 following its dissolution by the Supreme Military Council. Mr. Ezz’s political affiliation within the NDP was broadly understood to be with the “new guard” of the party, a grouping of ministers and others who were seen as economically liberal “modernizers,” and associated with Gamal Mubarak (the youngest son of the former president). Others perceived to be part of this faction include Ahmed Al-Maghrabi (former housing minister), Youssef Boutros Ghali (former finance minister), Ahmed Nazif (former prime minister), and Rachid Mohamed Rachid (former trade minister).
It may be significant that all these persons are now effectively removed from Egyptian politics. Over the last nine months, Ahmed Al-Maghrabi was tried and sentenced to five years imprisonment, Youssef Boutros Ghali was tried in absentia and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment in special security confinement for charges which he denies, Ahmed Nazif was dismissed by President Mubarak in January 2011, and at the time of writing is detained for investigation (as of course is Gamal Mubarak himself). Mr. Rachid was accused alongside Mr. Ezz and sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment in absentia. He was also sentenced in relation to independent charges to five years imprisonment.
AHMED EZZ BIOGRAPHY
PersonalAhmed Ezz was born in Cairo in 1959. He graduated from Cairo University with a degree in civil engineering. He holds Egyptian citizenship.
Through a deep commitment to the local community of his former constituency of Menouf El-Sadat, Mr. Ezz has provided over 15 years financial and practical support to citizens in need, offering them invaluable opportunities to help realize their potential.
Mr. Ezz has taken a personal interest in supporting the people of his former constituency of Menouf El-Sadat, providing invaluable opportunities for them to access education, training, healthcare and cultural experiences that may not otherwise be available to them. His dedication stems from a firm belief that, given the right opportunities, every individual can achieve their goals and improve their own lives.
Mr. Ezz has sponsored a whole host of projects to deliver precisely these opportunities. The projects are managed and run by the NGO he established in 2002 called Al Ezz Organization for Local Community Development.
Mr. Ezz joined the National Democratic Party (NDP) of former President Mubarak in 1989. He joined as a member of the Sadat City party unit and became organization secretary of that unit in 1992. In 1993, he was promoted to become head of District Level for El Sadat. He held this role for the next six years.
In 2000, Mr. Ezz became a member of the General Secretariat of the NDP. In the same year he was elected as a member of the Egyptian Parliament Assembly for the Menouf El-Sadat constituency.
In 2002 his peers appointed him to head up the Membership Secretariat, within the General Secretariat. He was re-elected as an MP in the 2005 election and soon after became head of the Organization Secretariat, one of the most prominent positions within the General Secretariat. His responsibilities in this role included managing party election campaigns, managing communications across all levels of the NDP and acting as chief whip within Parliament. In the same year, he was appointed chair of the Finance and Budget Committee at the Assembly.
Mr. Ezz resigned from the Secretariat of the NDP in January 2011. His position with the Parliamentary Assembly ended in February 2011 following the dissolution of the Egyptian Parliament by the Supreme Council.
Mr. Ezz is founder and former chairman of Ezzsteel plc.
In the mid-1980s, Mr. Ezz diversified his family business interests in Egypt by setting up the Ezz Ceramics and Porcelain Company (Gemma), producing premium-quality household tiles. Gemma continued to grow throughout the 1990s and in 1998 was floated on the Egyptian Stock Exchange, with Mr. Ezz holding two thirds of the company’s shares.
In the early 1990s, Mr. Ezz had begun his investment in steelmaking, which was to become his principle business activity from the early 1990s to the present day. In 1994 he acquired El-Baraka rolling mills in the 10th of Ramadan City (now Al Ezz Rolling Mills), a privately owned steel company. In 1995 he established Ezzsteel Rebars to develop a new steel making facility in Sadat City to produce steel long products. Steel production began in 1996.
In 1998, Ezzsteel established Al Ezz Flat Steel (EFS) in Suez to develop a new plant to produce flat steel coils. The plant was completed in 2002.
In June 1999, Ezzsteel Rebars, since then renamed Ezzsteel, floated on the Egyptian Stock Exchange and, through a Global Depository Receipt (GDR) program, on the London Stock Exchange.
In October-November 1999, Ezzsteel acquired shares in Alexandria National Steel Company (ANSDK). ANSDK produces long and flat steel products at its plant in Alexandria. ANSDK became subsequently Ezz Dekheila Steel Company (EZDK). Between 2000 and 2006, Ezzsteel increased its shareholding in EZDK and the acquisition of shares from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, foreign private companies and the free float on the stock market. In 2006, Ezzsteel held 50.28 percent of total issued capital of EZDK. EZDK was never privatized as the equity shareholding of the State owned entities in 1999 (45 percent of current total issued capital) was never divested. (See detailed brief about the acquisition of EZDK under annex 4).
All of Mr. Ezz's company shareholdings were well established before he entered Parliament as an MP in 2000. Since then, any increases in his personal wealth have come as a result of company expansion and rising share prices, rewarding the success of Ezzsteel's efficiency and growth. Ezzsteel is now the Middle East's biggest steel producer and an increasingly important player on the world stage.
Mr. Ezz also served as a member of the Egyptian Italian Business Council and a member of the Egypt-USA Business Council.
- 1979 – Ahmed Ezz joins family firm at Ezz Foreign Trade.
- 1982 – Mr. Ezz expands the firm's import and export operations.
- 1988 – Ezz Ceramics and Porcelain Company (Gemma) established in Sadat City.
- 1989 – Gemma launches its premium brand tiles to the market.
- 1989 – Mr. Ezz joins NDP as party unit member in Sadat City.
- 1992 – Appointed Organization Secretary for a party unit in Sadat City.
- 1993 – Appointed head of District Level Party for Sadat City, a position held for six years.
- 1994 – Acquires El-Baraka Rolling Mills in 10th of Ramadan City.
- 1995 – Al Ezzsteel Rebars (ESR) established in Sadat City. ESR invests in a new plant of European make to produce long steel product. Steel production begins in 1996.
- 1998 – Al Ezz Flat Steel (EFS) established in Suez. EFS invest in a new plant to produce flat steel coils using an innovative, continuous production process of European make. International funding in the project is guaranteed by the Italian State.
- 1998 – Gemma floats on Egyptian Stock Exchange, with Mr. Ezz owning 64.3% of its shares.
- 1999 – Ezzsteel acquires 20.9 percent in Alexandria National Steel Company (ANSDK), which becomes Ezz Dekheila Steel Company (EZDK). Ezzsteel acquired in subsequent years up to 54.6 percent through acquisition of shares from the World Bank, the African Development Fund, Japanese companies and the free float on the stock market.
- 1999 – Ezzsteel floats on the Egyptian Stock Exchange and, through a Global Depository Receipt (GDR) program, on the London Stock Exchange. Mr. Ezz held 51.9 million shares in Ezzsteel in 1999, which was 60.7 percent of the company's shares.
- 2000 – Appointed member of NDP General Secretariat.
- 2000 – Elected MP for Menouf El-Sadat.
- 2002 – Al Ezz Flat Steel (EFS) starts producing flat steel coils at Suez plant.
- 2005 – Re-elected as MP for Menouf El-Sadat.
- 2005 – Appointed Chair of the Finance and Budget Committee at the Parliament Assembly.
- 2006 – Mr. Ezz consolidates all steelmaking activities under the name Ezzsteel, creating a single, unified blue-chip company. Appointed head of NDP Organization Secretariat.
- 2011 – In January resigned from NDP General Secretariat and as head of Organization Secretariat.