EU court rejects Mubarak bid to end European sanctions

An EU court on Wednesday rejected a bid by Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak to lift a freeze on his assets in Europe that followed his ouster in the 2011 revolution.

European Union member countries imposed the sanctions on Mubarak and his family in March 2011 based on lawsuits filed against them in Egypt for alleged embezzlement of state funds.

After those countries - grouped in the European Council - renewed the sanctions in 2017 and 2018, Mubarak asked the EU's General Court to annul them.

"In today's judgment, the General Court dismisses the action and upholds the Council's 2017 and 2018 decisions to renew the freezing of assets," the Luxembourg-based court said.

"The renewal decisions form part of a policy of support for the Egyptian authorities that is based, in particular, on objectives of consolidation of and support for democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the principles of international law," the court said.

The European "decisions can be regarded as falling within the common foreign and security policy of the EU," it said.

It added that the sanctions "support a peaceful transition to a civilian and democratic government in Egypt."

They must "be maintained until the judicial proceedings are concluded in Egypt" so that they are effective.

"Consequently, they do not depend on successive changes of government in that country since the adoption of the decision," the court said.

After Mubarak's ouster, Islamist president Mohamed Morsi took power in 2012 before the military toppled him in 2013 following mass protests against Morsi's rule.

Former military chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi became president later that year.

The court also said there was no reason to doubt the legal basis on which the lawsuits were filed in Egypt. It also said the judicial proceedings in Egypt offered "effective safeguards" for Mubarak and his family.

Mubarak's team can file an appeal with the European Court of Justice, the top EU court, two months after being notified of the current ruling.

Since Mubarak's ouster more than seven years ago, a number of legal proceedings have been launched against the three-decade ruler and his relatives.

In March 2017, Mubarak was acquitted of charges of killing protesters, but he remains under investigation for alleged corruption.

Relative judicial leniency given to Mubarak and his inner circle have not been extended to Morsi and his supporters.

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