Egypt’s Court of Cassation has overturned the convictions for embezzlement of former President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons and ordered a retrial.
Hosni Mubarak, now 86, was jailed for three years in May after being found guilty of fraudulently billing the government for $14 million of personal expenses.
However, the Court of Cassation found legal procedures were not followed properly.
Hosni Mubarak’s lawyer says the former president would soon be released from detention at a Cairo military hospital.
It was the last remaining case keeping Hosni Mubarak behind bars.
Charges of conspiring in the killing of hundreds of protesters during the uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s rule in 2011 were dropped in November.
The former president and his sons – Alaa, 53, and Gamal, 51 – were also cleared of two separate corruption charges.
The Court of Cassation, Egypt’s top appeals court, announced that it had overturned the three men’s convictions for embezzlement and ordered a retrial at a brief session on January 13.
At the original trial, prosecutors alleged that Hosni Mubarak and his sons had billed the government for more than 100,000 Egyptian pounds of personal expenses – including utility bills, interior design, landscaping, furniture and appliances – for several private homes and a public palace that was fraudulently transferred to their ownership.
Other expenses included renovating a villa, and building a new palace wing to accommodate one of Hosni Mubarak’s granddaughters and a mausoleum for a grandson who died, they said.
Evidence submitted by the prosecutors included more than a thousand original and forged receipts.
When a new court is assigned for the retrial, the judges could order Hosni Mubarak to be freed because no convictions against him remain.
Egyptian media report that Hosni Mubarak had been expected to be released from the military hospital at Maadi on January 17 even if the embezzlement conviction was upheld because he has been in custody since April 2011.
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Silvio Berlusconi has broadcast an angry video message after his jail sentence for tax fraud was upheld by Rome’s Court of Cassation, the country’s highest court.
Italy’s former PM Silvio Berlusconi said he was the innocent victim of “an incredible series of accusations and trials that had nothing to do with reality”.
The court also ordered a further judicial review on whether Silvio Berlusconi should be banned from holding public office.
Silvio Berlusconi, 76, is unlikely to go to jail because of his age.
While he is expected to serve out his sentence as house arrest, Silvio Berlusconi has the option of asking to do community service instead, with the deadline for the application not expected to fall until mid-October.
The ruling by Rome’s Court of Cassation, against which he cannot appeal, came after a three-day hearing. Silvio Berlusconi was not in court.
In an emotional nine-minute video, Silvio Berlusconi denounced the decision as “based on nothing, and which deprives me of my freedom and political rights”.
“No-one can understand the onslaught of real violence that has been directed against me following an incredible series of accusations and trials that don’t have any foundation in reality,” he said.
He described the more that 50 court cases he has faced as “genuine judicial harassment that is unmatched in the civilized world”.
Silvio Berlusconi has broadcast an angry video message after his jail sentence for tax fraud
“In exchange for the commitments I have made over almost 20 years in favor of my country and coming almost at the end of my public life, I have been rewarded with accusations and a verdict that is founded on absolutely nothing, that takes away my personal freedom and my political rights.”
Silvio Berlusconi criticized the country’s judicial record, saying: “Is this the Italy that we want? Is this the Italy that we love? Absolutely not.”
It is the billionaire businessman’s first definitive conviction after decades of criminal prosecutions.
The case concerns deals that his firm Mediaset made to purchase TV rights to US films.
Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in prison at the conclusion of the trial in October last year, though this was automatically reduced to a year under a 2006 pardon law.
The court at the time heard that he and other executives had bought TV rights at inflated prices to avoid paying taxes.
He was labeled the “author of a whole system of tax fraud”.
The review of the lower court’s five-year ban on holding public office means Silvio Berlusconi can remain as a senator and as leader of his centre-right People of Freedom Party (PDL) for now.
Silvio Berlusconi’s political grouping forms part of Italy’s coalition government. Prime Minister Enrico Letta needs both the PDL and his own centre-left Democratic Party to govern.
In a statement after the court ruling, Enrico Letta urged “a climate of serenity” for the good of the country.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano also urged the country to stay calm.
Silvio Berlusconi’s legal team said there were “solid reasons” why Berlusconi should have been acquitted, and it would “evaluate and pursue any useful initiative, also in Europe, to make sure that this unjust sentence is radically reformed”.
Anti-establishment politician Beppe Grillo welcomed the court ruling, comparing the sentence to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In a statement on his blog, Beppe Grillo said Berlusconi had “polluted, corrupted and paralyzed Italian politics for 21 years”.
Rome’s Court of Cassation has upheld a prison sentence given to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for tax fraud.
When he was convicted last October, Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in prison but this was automatically reduced to a year under a 2006 pardon law.
Silvio Berlusconi faces house arrest or community service instead of going to jail because of his age – he is 76.
However, the court ordered a review of a five-year ban on public office that was part of the original sentence.
It is Silvio Berlusconi’s first definitive conviction in up to 30 court cases on a variety of charges.
The ruling by Rome’s Court of Cassation came after a three-day hearing.
Rome’s Court of Cassation has upheld a prison sentence given to Silvio Berlusconi for tax fraud
The judicial review of the five-year ban from public office will enable Berlusconi to remain as a senator and as leader of his centre-right People of Freedom Party (PDL) for now.
It is a devastating judgement against the former prime minister, although he will be relieved that judges ordered a review of the political ban.
Silvio Berlusconi’s party is one half of Italy’s coalition government: Prime Minister Enrico Letta needs both the PDL and his own centre-left Democratic Party to govern.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano issued a statement after the court ruling, urging the country to stay calm.
“The country needs to rediscover serenity and cohesion on vitally important institutional matters which have for too long seen it divided and unable to enact reforms,” he said.
The original ruling said that Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset media empire had inflated the price it had paid for film distribution rights to avoid paying taxes.
He was labeled the “author of a whole system of tax fraud”.
The three-time prime minister and senator has faced a string of trials since leaving office in November 2011.
Appeals are pending in other cases in which he was convicted of having paid for s** with an underage prostitute, and arranging for a police wiretap to be leaked and published in a newspaper.
Two other alleged tax evasion cases, one of them involving British lawyer David Mills, expired under the statute of limitations.
Silvio Berlusconi accuses magistrates from his home city of Milan of pursuing a “vendetta” against him.