Hesham Geneina, the former head of the Central Auditing Authority, was sentenced to five years in prison by a military court on Tuesday. His defense team intends to take steps to file an appeal against the verdict, according to lawyer Hossam Lotfy.
The former top auditor was charged with spreading false news due to statements he made in a February interview with HuffPost Arabi.
Lotfy told Mada Masr that Geneina’s defense team intends to file a complaint with the military commander of the jurisdiction in which the ruling was issued to halt the ratification of the sentence. If the complaint is accepted and the sentence is not ratified, Geneina’s defense team will be able to file an appeal before a military appeals court.
The statements were pertaining to documents regarding violence in the period after the January 25 revolution during which the Supreme Council for Armed Forces was the acting executive authority, which Geneina claimed were in the possession of former Armed Forces chief of staff and 2018 presidential candidate Sami Anan. The documents are allegedly stored outside of Egypt.
Geneina is currently being held in an appeals prison, but it is currently unclear whether he will be transferred to another prison to serve his sentence.
The trial in which the Tuesday ruling was issued was based on a complaint filed by the military general prosecutor in relation to the February interview, according to lawyer Ali Taha, a member of Geneina’s defense team. Anan also filed a complaint against Geneina following the its publication, however, Taha told Mada Masr that a court date has yet to be set to address this complaint.
The former top auditor was arrested on February 13 and the military prosecution issued him a 15-day detention order that same day, pending investigations into the complaint filed by the military general prosecutor. Geneina also faced a complaint filed by Anan accusing him of libel, defamation and distorting the former chief of staff’s military history.
The military general prosecutor issued a release order on LE15,000 bail in relation to Anan’s complaint, however, the outstanding complaint filed by the military general prosecutor prevented the release order from being carried out.
The military prosecutor referred Geneina to trial before a military misdemeanor court on April 10. According to the order to refer him to trial, Geneina was accused of “deliberately disseminating false rumors abroad about Egypt’s domestic situation. [He] did so by giving statements to the HuffPost Arabi news website (…) including some that were falsely attributed to the Armed Forces and that were related to the post January 2011 period, in an attempt to weaken the prestige of and undermine state agencies.”
The referral also noted that Geneina is accused of crimes outlined in Article 80 D of Egypt’s Penal Code, which stipulates fines of between LE100 and LE500 and prison sentences between six months and five years for those found guilty of spreading “false or tendentious news, information or rumors about the country’s internal situation” abroad with the intent to damage Egypt’s economic situation, dignity or prestige.
Geneina is also accused of violating Article 5 B of the military judiciary law, which stipulated that the military judiciary is competent to rule on crimes “that pertain to the equipment, tasks, weapons, ammunition, documents and secrets of the Armed Forces.”
Anan announced his intention to run for Egypt’s presidency on January 19 and was arrested shortly thereafter. He was charged with announcing his bid for office without first acquiring the military’s permission, aiming to incite a rife between the Armed Forces and the public and forging his end of service documents.
Geneina had been chosen as one of Anan’s campaign deputies at the time alongside political science professor Hazem Hossni.
Following Geneina’s arrest, he and Anan were both brought before military prosecution for questioning. Anan denied discussing documents regarding post-2011 violence alleged to be in his possession with the former top auditor, however Geneina maintained that a conversation had taken place in the company of Hossni, former ambassador Massoum Marzouk and activist Hazem Abdel Azeem, and requested that they be permitted to give testimonies.
Anan remains in military detention and is subject to ongoing investigations, for which the general military prosecutor issued a gag order.