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Mubarak’s last PM referred to trial for corruption

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CAIRO — Egyptian authorities on Tuesday referred Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister to trial on corruption charges in a case involving the ousted leader's two sons and four retired generals, security and judicial officials said.

Ahmed Shafiq, a career air force officer and a longtime friend of Mubarak, was the runner-up in Egypt's presidential election in June to the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, and has been living in the United Arab Emirates since shortly after that narrow defeat.

Shafiq, who has repeatedly denied corruption allegations and said in a television interview last week that the case against him is politically motivated, joins a long list of more than 30 Mubarak regime stalwarts, including two former prime ministers and the speakers of parliament's two chambers, to face corruption charges. Some of them have been tried and convicted while others are still on trial.

The officials said judicial authorities referred Shafiq to trial on charges of squandering public funds. The case is linked to his time as the chairman of a housing association in the 1990s when he allegedly sold plots of land at a fraction of their value to Mubarak's sons, Gamal and Alaa.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Gamal, Mubarak's onetime heir apparent, and wealthy businessman Alaa are in custody and on trial in a separate case on charges of insider trading. Their father, who ruled Egypt for 29 years until his ouster 19 months ago, is serving a life sentence for failing to prevent the killing of protesters during the 18-day uprising that forced him to step down.

Shafiq has been dogged by corruption allegations, some of them linked to the decade he spent as minister of civil aviation, since shortly after Mubarak's fall. He was named prime minister in the autocrat's final days in office and was fired by the military generals who took over when the former president stepped down.

The generals handed over power to Morsi on June 30, ending their 17-month stint as the country's rulers. Shortly before doing so, they stripped Morsi of many of his powers and declared themselves the country's legislators. Morsi struck back last month, pushing the military's top two officers — former military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and his chief-of-staff Sami Anan — into retirement.

Morsi named the two as presidential advisers, but the office of the nation's top prosecutor announced Sunday that complaints against Tantawi and Anan over their alleged role in the killing of protesters in the months that followed Mubarak's ouster have been referred to military prosecutors. The move does not necessarily mean the two will be investigated or tried, but it raises the possibility that either could happen.

Putting Tantawi and Anan, along with other generals, on trial for their alleged role in the killings has been a key demand of many of the youth groups behind the uprising that toppled Mubarak's regime.

Also Tuesday, security officials said a senior administration official at the university where the U.S.-educated Morsi taught engineering has been referred to a disciplinary panel for leaking details of the president's medical record during the presidential campaign.

According to published reports at the time of the campaign, Morsi underwent brain surgery in the 1980s.

The decision to take action against Nasser el-Gindi, public relations director at the Nile delta university of Zagazeeg, was taken by the university's rector, Mohammed Abdel-Al, according to the officials.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.