By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: The Cairo Criminal Court adjourned until Tuesday the trial of former prime minister Ahmed Nazif, former interior minister Habib El-Adly and former finance minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali in the license plates case in order to hear the defense.
The court heard defense witnesses who denied that Ghali, who has fled the country, only discussed offers with German company Utsch and denied any interference by El-Adly in choosing the company.
Nazif, Ghali and El-Adly are accused of squandering LE 92 million in public funds by granting the contract to Utsch through direct order at above market prices, in violation of the tenders and auctions law.
The first eyewitness, Amina Ghanem, a consultant at the Ministry of Finance, said that she does not know of any ties between Ghali and Utsch and that the former minister asked the Egyptian ambassador in the USA to recommend a company to provide license plates but ultimately preferred Utsch for its previous experience in the Middle East.
She also said that a meeting took place between Ghali and the German company’s representative to discuss technical properties of the plates but did not discuss prices because the company had previously sent it to the ministry by email.
Ghali wrote a memorandum, according to Ghanem, on the reasons for choosing the German company and sent it to El-Adly and Nazif, who approved the finalization of the deal.
General Sherif Gomaa, minister of interior assistant for specialized police, said they did not request the overall renewal of license plates for cars in Egypt, although it was preferred.
He said the old license plates were easily forged and were used in terrorist attacks and had low standards of security and insurance compared to the new ones.
Defense lawyer Mohamed Abdel Fattah told Daily News Egypt that they are planning something explosive for Tuesday’s session that will change the course of the case. He refused to disclose any details.
On Sunday, Marwan Mahmoud, an officer from Public Money Investigation Authority, said the officials profiteered from the deal by agreeing to above market prices.
Nazif and El-Adly, who attended the session in the docks and conferred with their lawyers, seemed relaxed and smiled during the hearing.
Egyptian protesters continued a sit-in for the fourth consecutive day, demanding swift trials for ousted regime figures.