An Egyptian administrative court fined ousted President Hosni Mubarak and two former officials 540 million Egyptian pounds ($91 million) today for cutting off mobile and internet services during protests in January. It was the first court ruling to be made against Mubarak since he was ousted on 11 February. Mr Mubarak faces more serious charges, including ordering the killing of protesters, a charge which could carry the death penalty.
A judicial source said the administrative court fined Mr Mubarak 200 million Egyptian pounds, former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif 40 million pounds, and former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly 300 million pounds. The court ruled that Mubarak, Nazif and Adly were guilty of “causing damage to the national economy” and the fines would be paid to the country’s treasury.
Political analyst Nabil Abdel Fattah called the ruling “extremely important,” saying it would change the way the Egyptian government deals with the communication revolution. “This ruling will be a turning point for the standing and decisions of some Egyptian entities still living in an authoritarian culture regarding how to deal with communication services and the freedoms they offer,” Mr Abdel Fattah said.
The 18-day uprising that toppled Mr Mubarak was largely web-based, and was organised by groups on Facebook. At least 800 people were killed during 18 days of protests, and more than 6,000 were wounded by live ammunition, rubber bullets, water cannons and batons.
Telecoms operator Vodafone said in January it and other mobile operators had no option but to comply with an order from the authorities to suspend services in selected areas of the country during the peak of the anti-government demonstrations. In February, Vodafone also accused the authorities of using its network to send pro-government text messages to subscribers.
Communications and Information Technology Minister Maged Othman said his ministry planned to pay compensation estimated at around 100 million pounds to mobile telecoms operators for losses caused by the service disruption, the state news agency MENA said. It said the figure was reached by independent bodies,