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Swiss hold Mubarak millions as Egypt remains volatile

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 14 Jan 2013 14:09 GMT
Author: Reuters
Reuters
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ZURICH, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Switzerland has said it will delay the return of millions of dollars of assets linked to deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak while it evaluates the institutions requesting the money.

Swiss authorities have frozen about ${esc.dollar}700 million in assets connected to Mubarak and his entourage. Since Mubarak was toppled in February 2011, Egypt's new rulers have made three formal requests to Switzerland for judicial assistance to recover the money.

The attorney general's office said it has reviewed some 140 different accounts in the course of its analysis, which would be completed at the end of January, when it would decide what to do next.

After the Arab uprisings began in early 2011, Switzerland blocked funds stashed in its banks linked to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, former Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as money linked to Mubarak.

"The attorney general has asked the relevant Swiss authorities, namely the Federal Office of Justice, for an analysis of the situation of the institutions in Egypt," the attorney general's office said in a statement.

"Based on this analysis, the attorney general will decide how to proceed in the legal assistance and criminal proceedings continue."

The office did not give details of which institutions it was analysing, or why.

Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, elected in June, provoked criticism from opponents that he was ruling in the same autocratic way Mubarak had for 30 years when he awarded himself sweeping powers in November to push through a new constitution.

The text, which Mursi fast-tracked through parliament and a national referendum, was fiercely opposed by many of the liberals, secularists and leftists who had helped to topple Mubarak, and has prompted often violent protests on the streets of Cairo.

On Sunday, Egypt ordered that Mubarak be retried after accepting an appeal against the life sentence he received last year over the killing of protesters during the uprising, when around 850 died.

(Reporting by Martin de Sa'Pinto; Editing by Alison Williams)

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