Briefing Page: Mubarak premier to face trial for corruption

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EGYPT

Mubarak premier to face trial for corruption

CAIRO — Egyptian authorities 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.

Mr. Shafiq, who repeatedly has 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 Mr. 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.

LIBYA

Leader reaches outto Gadhafi stronghold

TRIPOLI — The spokesman of Libya’s interim parliament says the country’s transitional leader has visited a key mountain town still held by fighters loyal to slain leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Omar al-Houmidan says that interim President Mohammed el-Megarif’s Tuesday visit to the town of Bani Walid, 90 miles southeast of Tripoli, was aimed at achieving reconciliation. He said locals pledged to hand over anyone wanted for crimes.

Bani Walid, a town of some 100,000 residents, fell to revolutionary forces in October, the last town in Libya to do so. But pro-Gadhafi forces retook it in January.

Libya’s central government is still weak, with most towns dominated by local militias.

YEMEN

200,000 rally against immunity for Saleh

SANAA — More than 200,000 Yemenis took to the streets Tuesday demanding the repeal of an immunity for ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in the largest protest since the longtime leader stepped down in February.

“The number of participants has exceeded 200,000,” said a member of the organizing committee, while another said protesters covered 3 miles along the main street of the capital.

The protest, which had been called for last week by the Committee of Youth of the Peaceful Revolution, came hot on the heels of an explosion that targeted Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed. He survived the attack, but 13 people were killed, including seven of his guards.

Protesters want to bring Mr. Saleh and his aides to justice over the killing of demonstrators during a year of protest against his 33-year rule.

Although he stepped down, Mr. Saleh is believed to be working behind the scenes to undermine the country’s political transition.

BAHRAIN

Bomb attack wounds Bahrain police officer

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A Bahrain police officer was in critical condition Tuesday after being hit in a petrol-bomb attack by unknown assailants in a Shiite village, a police statement said.

The policeman sustained injuries when his patrol came under attack late Monday near the entrance of Al-Dair village in Muharraq, northeast of the Bahraini capital of Manama, the statement said.

A group of local “terrorists used Molotov cocktails and iron rods to attack a police Jeep that had been deployed to provide security in the area,” it said, adding that the police officer was rushed to hospital, where he remains in critical condition.

Al-Wefaq Shiite opposition said Tuesday that police attacked a community religious facility in Al-Dair with tear gas.

The Sunni-ruled kingdom has continued to witness sporadic Shiite-led protests, mostly outside the capital, since it crushed a protest movement in a bloody crackdown in March last year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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