Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has asked that he be acquitted of all corruption and embezzlement charges in return for repaying all his dues to the state.
A new law passed in January this year, makes it possible to acquit anyone facing corruption charges if he returns the state funds.
The issue has generated a heated debate in the north African country over the appropriateness of allowing corrupt officials to pay for their freedom. While some argue that the law will only encourage corruption, others support the law which they say will still be to the benefit of the state.
“First and foremost, they are Egyptians and are willing to correct their mistakes and return the money. They are businessmen and when they return to Egypt they will bring more investments with them and support the economy” said Adel Rahouma, Chairman of the Arab Real Estate Group.
He further argues that the jailed officials “will pay billions of Egyptian pounds as renominations. The money will go into the state budget.”
But a Cairo resident Sherif Suleiman said: “It’s not logical to pay money to get out of jail. So they steal our money and corrupt the whole country and simply pay some money and are set free?”
The Egyptian government has however said it would go along with reconciliation efforts, whether they are popular or not.
Official figures indicate that the government expects to retrieve over 15 billion U.S. dollars over the next three years with the new law.
Mubarak faces charges of corruption and embezzlement and is still awaiting trial.
His retrial was adjourned to November 3 after he failed to attend his last hearing due to “concerns about his secure transfer to the appeals court in downtown Cairo.”