CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's powerful former information minister was convicted of corruption and sentenced to seven years in prison Wednesday, in the latest conviction of a high-ranking figure of Hosni Mubarak's toppled regime.
Anas el-Fiqqi joins a growing list of former regime officials to have been convicted of crimes committed during Mubarak's nearly 30-year rule, along with the ex-interior minister, tourism minister and a ruling party insider and steel magnate. Former state television chief Osama el-Sheikh also was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison in the same case as el-Fiqqi.
Meting out justice to former regime officials has been a driving force behind continued protests and frustration among the groups that led the mass uprising that toppled Mubarak in February. Activists have accused the country's military rulers of dragging their heels in the prosecution of former Mubarak cronies.
Egypt's military rulers met one of the key demands, however, last month, putting Mubarak on trial on charges of ordering the use of deadly force against protesters in the 18-day uprising that toppled him. His two sons, businessman Alaa and one-time heir apparent Gamal, also are being tried on corruption charges.
El-Fiqqi was acquitted earlier this year of other charges, including channeling state money to help Mubarak's party election campaigns.
After the Cairo court announced its verdict Wednesday, the families and supporters of the defendants broke out in chants, scuffled with one another and directed slurs at the judges. "Invalid, Invalid," the crowd chanted.
Despite making some moves to placate protesters, Egypt's military rulers have been reluctant to implement reforms that would restrict and purge the country's much-hated security apparatus of its repressive policies.
A recently circulated video showing a dozen policemen and military officers abusing and giving electric shocks to two detainees, served as a reminder of police practices under Mubarak. Hatred of the police was a key motivating force behind the popular uprising that ousted Mubarak in February.
On Wednesday, Egypt's military prosecutor said it has launched an inquiry into the video taken in the northern Nile Delta province of Dakahliya.
The video surfaced on social networking sites earlier this week showing the two men being beaten up while they were questioned about the source of guns and rifles seized from them, while officers were laughing and filming them with their cell phones.
When they refused to answer, the detainees are repeatedly electrocuted on their ears and chins.