Former Egypt Leader Faces More Troubles
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.
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And I'm Melissa Block.
In Egypt, the former president may now be stuck and worse. Hosni Mubarak and his family are now banned from traveling outside the country. Some of their assets have been seized, and there are growing calls to hold Mubarak accountable for allegedly amassing wealth, while much of the population remained mired in deep poverty.
NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Cairo that the extent of the Mubarak family's wealth remains unclear.
PETER KENYON: After vowing to serve out his term and die on Egyptian soil, Mubarak abruptly stepped down earlier this month and left for the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.
It seemed that many Egyptians would be content to let the former president slip away while they focused on building a new country. But through the 18 days of protest that brought the president down, persistent reports circulated about piles of wealth the Mubarak family had stashed both inside and outside Egypt.
Now, Egypt's public prosecutor says all Mubarak family assets in Egypt have been frozen and a travel ban imposed, pending the investigation of complaints. Authorities had already asked other countries to freeze assets that could be located abroad. And Switzerland, the U.S. and others announced they had done so.
One complaint filed here alleges that Mubarak's sons, Alaa and Gamal, kept tens of millions of Egyptian pounds in a state-owned bank.
It's not clear that these moves are the first steps toward a legal prosecution of Mubarak or his relatives. And despite the overwhelming popular anger at corruption in Egypt in general and among the political elite in particular, not everyone believes a rush to revenge is in the country's best interest right now.
Hisham Kassem is a publisher, analyst and longtime human and civil rights advocate. He said his initial thought was to let Mubarak go, pardon him and move on.
Mr. HISHAM KASSEM (Human Rights Advocate): But it's becoming extremely difficult to take that course. This is serious. And then the money that's been found inside Egypt, my God, so what did he put outside? And suddenly, it's not looking good for him.
KENYON: Kassem says he understands and shares much of the anger at the millions apparently diverted by corrupt officials, but he hopes Egyptians will consider some kind of truth and reconciliation model of confession and forgiveness, instead of mass prosecutions.
Mr. KASSEM: Because, again, if we really hold everybody accountable under his regime, we don't have enough prisons.
KENYON: The first of what may be several trials targeting former cabinet ministers is due to begin this week focusing on the interior minister.
Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Cairo.
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