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Jail term reaffirmed for Egyptian ex-premier

An Egyptian appeals court has upheld a one-year prison sentence against Hesham Qandil, a former prime minister under deposed president Mohammed Morsi. The case stems from a 2011 ruling that a firm be re-nationalized.

A one-year jail sentence imposed on former Egyptian prime minister Hesham Qandil in April was upheld by an appeals court in Cairo on Thursday.

Qandil has not been seen in public since the massive crackdown on Islamists by Egypt's army-installed authorities that resulted in hundreds killed and more than 2,000 jailed.

Cairo's Administrative Court ruled that Qandil, a technocrat appointed as premier in August 2012, must serve the jail term for failing to implement a 2011 court ruling to re-nationalize a textile company.

The court also invalidated the privatization of the company, Tanta Flax and Oils, and reinstated dismissed employees.

They had filed a lawsuit against Qandil for failing to repurchase the firm. It was sold to a Saudi businessman in 2005 by the former administration of ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

Courts reverse Mubarak-era deals

The jail term was originally imposed on Qandil in April, when was still premier, before the army's ouster of Morsi and its crackdown on the former president's Islamist supporters.

At the time, officials in Qandil's then-government had said that re-nationalizing state enterprises was not straightforward and the company had been broken up since its sale.

Egyptian courts have issued at least 11 rulings since the revolution that toppled Mubarak in 2011, ordering the state to reverse deals signed by the former president's administration.

Activists and lawyers had said the companies were sold off too cheaply and were representative of corrupt business practices during the Mubarak era.

The rulings have put a number of foreign companies operating in Egypt into legal limbo.

Qandil's Cabinet was widely criticized in Egypt for failing to revive an economy in deep crisis after more than two years of political turmoil.

Fatal shooting in Sinai

Security sources in Egypt's volatile northern Sinai region said on Monday that gunmen had killed at least two policemen while on their way to work in the provincial capital of el-Arish.

Attacks on Egyptian forces have surged in northern Sinai since Morsi's ouster. In response, security forces launched an offensive against militants in the Sinai three weeks ago.

Last week, the army announced that more than 300 suspects had been arrested since early July.

The area is of strategic importance because it borders Israel and flanks the Suez Canal, a key sea route between Asia and Europe.

ipj/mkg (Reuters, AP, dpa)