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Former top Egyptian official granted asylum in Switzerland

Egyptian Mohamed el-Ghannam has been granted political asylum in Switzerland

(Keystone Archive)

A former director of the Egyptian Interior Ministry's legal investigations department, Mohamed el-Ghannam, has been granted political asylum in Switzerland. Ghannam was forced to leave his post in 1998 after he published a number of articles about widespread police corruption and human rights abuses in Egypt.

Ghannam is now investigating whether the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, can be tried in Belgium for alleged human rights violations. Ghannam claims that Mubarak is responsible for deaths of thousands of people in Egypt and for the torture of many others.

Ghannam also says that Moubarak pardoned many police officers who had been convicted of not respecting human rights.

He adds that he has evidence to prove that corruption is rife among the president's closest aides.

Ghannam is hoping to take the case to the Belgian courts following a 1993 Belgian law which gave its legal system the jurisdiction to try anyone from any country on charges of human rights abuses regardless of where and when they were alleged to have taken place.

Forty-three-year-old Ghannam said that he has had a Swiss entry visa since 1999 but added that the Egyptian authorities prevented him from leaving the country up until May this year, when he managed to travel to Switzerland.

Ghannam was full of praise for how the Swiss embassy in Cairo handled his case, saying they had acted with wisdom and intelligence.

Ghannam's request for political asylum was confirmed by a spokesman from the Federal Office of Refugees on Tuesday.

swissinfo with agencies


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