CAIRO, Nov.19 (Aswat Masriya) – The South Giza prosecution referred the founder of Al-Masry al-Youm newspaper and Chairman of PICO Salah Diab to criminal court Thursday on charges of illegal possession of weapons.
The Mubarak-era businessman and his son Tawfik were arrested in a dawn raid on their home Sunday and were held pending investigation earlier in November. His personal assets were temporarily frozen by the state's top prosecutor.
The pair were released on November 11 on EGP 50,000 and EGP 10,000 bail for father and son respectively. On the same day, a court lifted the asset freeze.
Diab, the founder of one of Egypt's biggest private newspapers Al-Masry al-Youm and the Chairman of PICO Group, which operates in the agriculture and petroleum sectors, is currently implicated in an investigation where he and several other defendants stand accused of seizing vast areas of state land at less than their real value. The current case dates back to complaints filed in 2007, a judicial source had previously told Aswat Masriya.
The complaints were filed before the public funds prosecution. The men are accused of obtaining "vast areas" of land along the Cairo-Alexandria desert road from the agriculture ministry for low prices, a judicial source said.
The complainants allege that the accused turned the land into touristic resorts instead of reclaiming it for agricultural purposes, in what constitutes unlawful seizure of state land in complicity with the agricultural development and projects authority.