Egypt's ex-finance minister sentenced
CAIRO -- Egypt's former finance minister was sentenced in absentia Saturday to 30 years in prison for squandering public funds and abusing his authority, the state news agency said.
Yousef Boutros-Ghali, a nephew of former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, left Egypt during the uprising that forced out President Hosni Mubarak in February. Yousef Boutros-Ghali was a powerful confidant of Mubarak's son Gamal.
Boutros-Ghali's whereabouts is unknown.
A Cairo court convicted Boutros-Ghali on Saturday in two cases. In one, he was found guilty of appropriating luxury vehicles seized from the customs authority. In another, he was convicted of abusing his authority by using state print shops to produce campaign material.
In each case, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and was fined $6 million.
Also Saturday, an Egyptian prosecutor referred to criminal court the cases of 48 Muslims and Christians for their suspected roles in an interfaith feud that killed 12 people and left a church burned.
The clashes in early May broke out when anger over a mixed romance sent a large mob of Muslims toward a church. Christians created a human barricade around the building and clashes erupted.
Prosecution spokesman Adel el-Said said that 48 cases of mob violence, murder, damaging public areas and unlicensed gun use had been referred to State Security's Supreme Criminal Court. Twenty-two of the accused are in custody. The prosecutor ordered police to arrest 26 others so they could stand trial.
Egypt's Christians make up 10 percent of the country's 80 million people. They complain of widespread discrimination, including tight restrictions on building or repairing churches, while Muslim places of worship do not face such limits.
Since the 18-day uprising that ousted Mubarak on Feb. 11, there has been a sharp rise in sectarian tensions, as ultraconservative Muslims have become more forceful in trying to spread their version of an Islamic way of life.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)