Thursday, May 27, 2010

Prison sentences for Cairo officials in connection with rockslide in 2008

 Manshiyet Nasr after thedisaster. At the background the slopes of the Moqattam Hills from where the boulders came down.

The deputy governor of Cairo and seven others were sentenced to jail on Wednesday by an Egyptian court over a 2008 rockslide that killed more than 100 people in a shantytown. Critics said the authorities had focused blame mostly on lower level officials for the disaster that triggered complaints from Egyptians who said the government was failing to protect the poor. One in five Egyptians lives on less than $1 a day.

Deputy governor Mahmoud Yassin gor five years, the seven municipal officials three years each in connection with the rockslide in September 2008, when huge boulders crushed ramshackle dwellings in Manshiyet Nasr, a poor area on the eastern outskirts of Cairo. At the time, local residents estimated there were up to 600 bodies that were never recovered.
"Sentences of five and three years are very light and do not indicate a genuine desire to curb negligence and corruption in Egypt," said Hassan Nafaa, a political science professor at Cairo University and frequent critic of the government. Rights groups said the state had done too little to move the poor from precarious places such as Duwaiqa. Nafaa said the verdict appeared aimed at deflecting public anger but had placed blame mainly on lower ranking officials and "would not result in any deep change or in improvement of service provision".

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