Mubarak-era finance minister arrested in France

A Mubarak-era official wanted for financial crimes was arrested at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on Monday, and now faces extradition to Egypt and a 30-year prison sentence.

Brigadier General Magdy al-Shafie, the head of Interpol in Egypt, announced in an interview on the Al-Hayat Al-Youm satellite television show that former Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali was arrested by Interpol authorities as soon as he entered French territory, as per an extradition agreement between the two countries.

Authorities immediately began drawing up extradition papers, according to Shafie.

Along with several other former regime figures, the ex-finance minister initially fled to London after the outbreak of the January 25, 2011 revolution, where he lived openly despite facing criminal charges of squandering public funds and illicit gains back in Egypt.

Interpol issued a notice against him shortly thereafter. However, Boutros-Ghali — who served as Mubarak’s finance minister from 2004 to 2011 and also served on an International Monetary Fund policy steering panel — could not be arrested in the UK unless Egypt issued an international arrest warrant. The two countries do not have extradition relations.

The 61-year-old was sentenced in absentia to 30 years in prison, the maximum sentence in Egypt, by the Cairo Criminal Court in June 2011 for his involvement in squandering LE200 million in public funds, among other charges.

The same court also supported the Illicit Gains Authority’s ruling to confiscate Boutros-Ghali’s assets, and those of his family.

Boutros-Ghali’s public life in London elicited furious condemnation from Egyptian expats living in the UK, who raised questions regarding the British authorities’ reluctance to arrest him. There was particular outcry after he appeared at a London School of Economics lecture in January 2012. The former regime figure had to be ushered out of the lecture by security guards after audience members tweeted his picture and urged Egyptians to come to the auditorium to confront him.

Other Mubarak-era officials who fled Egypt after the ex-president’s fall from power include former Industry and Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid, also wanted on charges of squandering funds and illicit grains. However, Rachid’s move from London to Turkey has complicated the possibility of extradition, Shafie asserted.

After the fall of former President Mohamed Morsi and his predominantly Muslim Brotherhood administration, 24 leading members of the recently banned Islamist organization fled to Qatar, according to Shafie, and are also now wanted by Interpol.

Court cases against former regime figures implicated in a wide array of corruption scandals and other abuses of power have been slow moving and resulted in few convictions over the past three years.

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