Egypt's ex-PM faces corruption charges

CAIRO - The last prime minister to serve under ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was referred to trial on corruption charges by an investigative judge, officials said.

The charges against Ahmed Shafik, the runner-up in Egypt's presidential election, arise from allegations made against him while he served as the nation's civil aviation minister under Mubarak.

"He faces charges of profiteering and facilitating illegal acquisition of state funds," Adel Saeed, spokesman for the general prosecutor's office, said Sunday.

Shafik was one of ten former civil aviation ministry officials referred to trial, Saeed said.

Egyptian prosecutors have already ordered the arrest and extradition of Shafik in a separate corruption case involving the alleged illegal sale of real estate to Mubarak's sons.

Shafik narrowly lost a June presidential runoff to Mohamed Morsy in what was Egypt's first election since Mubarak was ousted from office during a popular uprising in 2011.

He left Egypt for the United Arab Emirates shortly after the vote, though his attorney told CNN at the time that Shafik was not fleeing the country but leaving out of concern for security.

But Shafik on Sunday appeared to counter that claim.

"I traveled after the election in anticipation of unexpected persecution and that was proven to be true and a deliberate attack," he wrote in a post on Twitter.

He accused his detractors of using the judiciary as part of a "character assassination" and vowed to stand up to what he described as a manipulation of the law.

Shafik garnered international attention in the waning days of Mubarak's rule.

As Egyptians rose up in January 2011, Mubarak shuffled his government ministers in attempt to hold on to power and promoted Shafik from civil aviation minister to prime minister.

Mubarak was toppled less than two weeks later, but Shafik remained in power for a few weeks longer, saying he and his government would report to the military council that took control of the country after Mubarak resigned.

Shafik himself resigned on March 3, 2011, after a brief effort to keep Mubarak and his allies from being prosecuted following their ouster.

Shafik has been the target of particular anger from the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's venerable Islamic opposition movement that backed Morsy.

Ahead of the presidential election, the Muslim Brotherhood called for a mass protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the Egyptian revolution, against the candidacies of Shafik and Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's long-time head of intelligence.

Both were disqualified from running, but Shafik successfully appealed against the ruling. Suleiman died in July.

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