CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian military court on Tuesday convicted the country’s former anti-graft chief of insulting the armed forces and sentenced him to five years in prison, according to two defense lawyers.
Hesham Genena was arrested in February following incendiary comments he made in a television interview in which he claimed that the former chief-of-staff Sami Annan was in possession of documents incriminating the country’s “leadership.” He said the documents were kept abroad.
A day before Genena’s arrest, the military said it would take action to safeguard its “honor and dignity.”
Annan himself was arrested in January shortly after he announced his intention to challenge President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in the March presidential election. He was accused of incitement against the military and forgery.
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El-Sissi ran virtually unopposed, winning the March 26-28 election with 97 percent of the vote.
Defense lawyer Hossam Lotfy said the verdict against Genena would be appealed before a higher military tribunal. Another defense lawyer, Ali Taha, confirmed the verdict in a Facebook posting.
The arrest of both Genena and Annan were part of a pre-election crackdown that removed potentially serious challengers from the race.
A former prime minister and air force general, Ahmed Shafiq, quit the race just days after he announced his intention to run. He was the target of an intense defamation campaign in the pro-government media, whose stalwarts hurled unsubstantiated corruption and personal misconduct accusations against him.
Other potentially candidates were intimidated out of the race.
Genena, who was to be one of Annan’s two top campaign aides, led Egypt’s watchdog agency until el-Sissi fired him in 2016. On Jan. 27, Genena was assaulted by three men near his home, sustaining serious eye and knee injuries. He later told The Associated Press in an interview that he suspected the attack was related to an appeal he planned to file the same day, contesting the removal of Annan’s name from the list of presidential hopefuls.
Authorities said at the time that he was injured in a brawl following a car accident he was involved in.