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Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 12 - 07 - 2018

Arrest for bribery
THE CHAIRMAN of the Customs Authority, Gamal Abdel-Azim, was arrested on Monday on bribery charges. According to charges filed by the Administrative Control Authority, Abdel-Azim was caught red-handed receiving bribes in local and foreign currencies.
Abdel-Azim is officially accused of smuggling goods the import of which is banned and of helping smugglers avoid paying customs fees. He had asked his subordinates to prepare invalid papers to finish customs-release procedures for the smugglers, the charges said.
He will now be referred to the prosecution-general for the necessary procedures. During his appointment in May, Abdel-Azim pledged to achieve the “utmost degree of transparency” at the authority.
Fire at Al-Hussein University Hospital
A FIRE broke out at the Al-Hussein University Hospital in Islamic Cairo on Saturday at noon. While no deaths were reported, five patients suffered from inhaling smoke caused by the fire, according to a Health Ministry statement.
Civil defence forces managed to put out the fire that erupted on four floors of the hospital with the help of 13 firefighting vehicles. Around 100 patients, including those in intensive care, were immediately evacuated from the Hospital. Measures to transport them to other nearby hospitals were taken in 15 ambulances provided by the health ministry.
The Hospital building is being checked by a technical committee from Al-Azhar University's Engineering Faculty, and the fire badly damaged the Hospital's Ophthalmology Department.
The Al-Hussein University Hospital is affiliated to Al-Azhar University and is subject to the supervision of the Al-Azhar Mosque. Al-Azhar grand imam sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb asked for an investigation into the cause of the fire. "There will be action taken if negligence or corruption is proven to be the cause," Al-Azhar University officials stated.
A preliminary examination referred to the short circuiting of an air-conditioner in the fourth-floor conference hall which then extended to the three other floors.
Fire causes EgyptAir crash
THE MAY 2016 crash of a Paris-Cairo EgyptAir flight killing all 66 people on board has stirred up differences between Egyptian and French investigators.
A French report issued early this week said the crash was likely caused by a cockpit fire, refuting an Egyptian suggestion that a bomb may have been the cause. Egyptian officials had said in December 2016 that traces of explosives were found on human remains retrieved from the crash, suggesting it was a terrorist act.
The prosecution-general said in a statement issued on Monday that it was following up investigations into the reasons for the crash. “What has been published on some news websites about a fire in the cockpit is not solidly based as investigations are still ongoing,” the prosecution statement said.
However, the French Air Accident Investigation Agency (BEA) said in a statement that the authorities in Egypt had apparently not followed up calls for further investigations. “The BEA's proposals concerning further work on the debris and recorded data were not followed up,” the statement said. Twelve of the crash victims were French.
“The BEA considers that the most likely hypothesis is that a fire broke out in the cockpit while the airplane was flying at its cruise altitude and that the fire spread rapidly resulting in the loss of control of the airplane,” the statement said.
It noted that Egyptian investigators had not published their final report, adding that the BEA was ready to resume work with the Egyptian authorities if they decided to resume the investigations. International regulations stipulate that a report should come out within a year of a crash.
Kidnapped child released
THE SECURITY forces returned a child safely to his family on Sunday after he had been kidnapped from outside his grandparents' villa in Shorouk city northeast of Cairo and held for five days.
Hisham Sami, seven, was forcibly taken on 4 July by armed men from the car of his mother's friend. After reporting the case to the police and sharing the child's photographs on social media, his grandfather received a call from the kidnappers demanding a $100,000 ransom to release the child.
The Interior Ministry traced the calls, checked surveillance cameras at the incident site, and asked the grandfather to pay part of the ransom to secure more time. The security forces then managed to locate the child in a villa under construction on the Cairo-Alexandria highway. The seven perpetrators, from Boulaq Al-Dakrour in Giza, were arrested and charged with possessing part of the ransom, weapons, and the two cars used in the kidnapping incident, a statement by the Interior Ministry said.
The kidnappers are now being interrogated by the authorities. Efforts are underway to arrest an eighth kidnapper who fled the scene. A preliminary investigation has revealed that financial disputes with the kidnapped child's family may have been the reason behind the incident.
Lebanese tourist jailed
EGYPT'S Misdemeanours Court sentenced Mona Al-Mazbouh, a Lebanese national, to eight years in prison on Saturday on charges of insulting Egypt in a 10-minute video that went viral on social media. She was initially handed 11 years in prison, but the sentence was reduced on the same day to eight years for unclear reasons. A fine of LE10,700 was also imposed. The court set 29 July as the date for her appeal.
Al-Mazbouh was arrested at Cairo Airport early in June when she was on her way out of Egypt following a prosecution arrest warrant. She was referred for urgent trial for “deliberately broadcasting false rumours that could undermine society and attack religion, in addition to producing content considered a disgrace to public modesty.”
Al-Mazbouh had posted a video on her Facebook account recounting verbal sexual harassment she had experienced during a vacation in Egypt. She referred to Egyptians as “beggars” and described Egyptian women as “prostitutes”.
The legal action against Al-Mazbouh was prompted by a complaint filed by lawyer Amr Abdel-Salam accusing her of insulting Egyptians and the state through a video that included obscene language.
Before her arrest, Al-Mazbouh posted an apologetic video on her Facebook page. “I definitely did not mean to offend the Egyptians,” she said, though only apologising to those who had shown her support.
Her lawyer, Emad Habib, told the court that his client suffered from a neurological disorder, limiting her ability to control her actions. Al-Mazbouh's father has also asked the Egyptian people to accept his apology for his daughter's actions.

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