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Former agriculture minister sentenced to 10 years in jail on corruption charges

Former Agriculture Minister Salah Helal was sentenced to 10 years in a maximum-security prison along with his office director, Mohieddin Saeed, on corruption charges, the state-owned Al-Ahram reported Monday.

Helal was also fined LE1 million, while Saeed was fined LE500,00. They were convicted of accepting bribes in exchange for granting licenses for state-owned land.

Helal was arrested minutes after he officially announced his resignation last September.

The court acquitted businessman Ayman al-Gameel and journalist Mohamed Fouda, who were both involved in the same case.

Gameel was suspected of offering the bribes, while Fouda was suspected of acting as a broker for the deals.

Fouda was previously sentenced to five years in prison in a similar case in 2002, when he served as the secretary of former Culture Minister Farouk Hosni. Fouda was found guilty of facilitating the sale of a plot of land for the benefit of the ministry’s antiquities department in exchange for other favors.

Helal reportedly illegally accepted an Ahly Sporting Club membership valued at LE140,000, expensive clothing from upscale boutiques worth LE230,000, two cellphones priced at LE11,000, a Ramadan iftar dinner in a hotel for LE14,500, a trip to Mecca for hajj for 16 people at 70,000 Saudi riyals per person, and a housing unit in 6th of October City valued at LE8.25 million.

Helal was appointed agriculture minister in March after holding various positions in the ministry over the past 35 years. He served as the Qalyubiya culture secretary in former President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, and was also a member of the local city council in that governorate. 

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