Former president Hosni Mubarak didn’t do anything illegal in the deal to export natural gas to Israel, Mubarak’s lawyer, Farid al-Deeb, argued on Saturday, before Cairo Criminal Court adjourned the trial to Sunday. On Saturday, it heard Mubarak’s defense team, led by Deeb.
The prosecution had accused Mubarak of exporting gas to Israel at sub-standard rates and of allocating responsibility for the deal to businessman Hussein Salem, thereby squandering public money.
Deeb added that the Supreme State Security Court completed investigations into the case and referred former Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy, Salem and five others for trial. The investigations did not mention any accusations against Mubarak, he said.
Still, the prosecution later added Mubarak to the case.
He said that former vice president Omar Suleiman said in his testimony that when Mubarak learned of the low price of the gas, he asked him to meet with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to renegotiate the contract or cancel the deal.
According to Deeb, Suleiman said that Israel agreed to amend the contract such that the new price of one million thermal units would be US$3.5 instead of US$1.5.
He added that it was agreed that the price would be reviewed every three years instead of every 15 years. According to Deeb, Suleiman said that it was Mubarak who asked for amending the contract when he learned of the prices. Mubarak also threatened to halt exports if prices weren’t raised, Deeb said.
The lawyer said that Suleiman, former head of Egyptian intelligence, said that the intelligence apparatus led negotiations over the gas deal and sought to create common interests with Israel, bolster the peace process and improve Egypt's chances of influencing Israel. He also said the deal involved other components related to national security.
Deeb added that Egypt 's gas provided Israel with 40 percent of its electricity needs, which he said proves that the deal was intended to create leverage over Israel.
Deeb also said that the Supreme Administrative Court said in its ruling on the gas deal that the decision to export gas to Israel was a sovereign decision, and that Mubarak’s only role was to approve the deal.