EGYPT: Controversial lawmaker member accused of bribery loses immunity
Is a popular independent lawmaker a crook or a victim of Egyptian politics?
In a heated session on Monday, members of Egypt's first parliamentary cabinet People's Assembly hesitantly agreed to strip independent lawmaker Talaat Sadat of his immunity following charges of bribery made against him by the state security prosecutor.
The prosecution forwarded a request to the assembly stating that Sadat received a sum of about $45,600 in order to use his ties with the Minister of Tourism to help facilitate the issuance of licenses necessary for the establishment of a new transport company for some of his friends.
In Monday's session, Sadat, nephew of the late president Anwar Sadat, argued that the prosecution has so far failed to submit any evidence proving that allegations made against him are genuine.
After head of the parliament called on for a decision for no less than three times, parliament members belonging the ruling National Democratic Party, which dominates the assembly, agreed to accept the prosecution's request.
Most independent and opposition lawmakers opposed the vote.
Sadat has always been known for his previous clashes with a number of NDP members and lawmakers, as well as the minister of interior, Habib Al Adli.
In 2006, he served a sentence of a year imprisonment after being found guilty of defaming the Egyptian military establishment following a television interview, where he hinted that the military forces may have played a role in his uncle's assassination in 1981.
The lawyer is convinced that the ongoing accusations are an attempt by some figures in the ruling regime to get back at him. "This case is absolutely baseless. It is an attempt to denigrate my reputation before the upcoming parliamentary elections" in the fall, Sadat furiously said.
"The ministry of interior's investigations are behind this case, but it is expected that they do this after I made more than 50 parliamentary inquiries against the minister of interior," he added.
Also known for his strong opposition to any plans by President Hosni Mubarak to have his son Gamal succeed him, Sadat recently quit his post as member of the parliamentary committee on defense and national security in protest of the decision to build a steel wall on the borders with the Gaza strip.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Photo: Talaat Sadat among a group of his supporters. Credit: Nasser Nouri / Reuters