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Government and Security Sector Accountability

License Plates Case

Court / Presiding Judge

First Review: Cairo Criminal Court/Judge Assem Abdel Hameed
Second Review: Cairo Criminal Court/Judge Basheer Ahmed Abdel 'Al

Procedural History

In July 2011, the court issued its verdict upon first review. Thereafter, the Court of Cassation challenged and denied the verdict, ordering a retrial. On February 24, 2015, the court issued its verdict in the retrial.


Upon first review, the court sentenced former interior minister Habib al-Adly to five years in prison, former prime minister Ahmed Nazif to a one-year suspended sentence, and former minister of finance Youssef Boutros-Ghali to 10 years in absentia. All defendants were also fined a total of LE92 million. Upon appeal, Nazif and Adly were acquitted of all charges.

Summary of Reasoning

The defendants were initially accused of making an illegal deal with German company UTSCH to sell license plates at prices higher than market value (prosecutors argued that LE92 million were lost). The court held that there was no evidence regarding the charges attributed to the defendants. It added that Article 8 of the Tenders and Auction Law No. 89 of 1998 allows the prime minister to authorize a certain body to conduct deals in several ways. The court added that Adly had been “ignorant of financial law regulations,” and thus he was missing the requisite intent to commit the crime of “levying,” with which he had been charged.

Anecdotal Notes

The prosecutors’ case was based on a theory that the actions in question violated the Tenders and Auction Law.

Legal & Judicial Implications

The judiciary’s willingness to grant expansive discretion to the actions of government officials sends an implicit message that the court system is unlikely to find such persons guilty of financial crimes. The sentence at hand joins a long list of corruption-related cases in which Mubarak-era officials have been acquitted or handed down relatively minor sentences.