Egypt’s Court Sends Bassem Ouda ‘Minister of the Poor’ to a Life Sentence

Egypt’s Court of Cassation has upheld the life sentence against Former Minister of Supply and Interior Trade Bassmen Ouda and 36 others, where they were accused of blocking the Cairo-Alexandria Agricultural Road, known as the “Qalyub Highway”.

The ruling is final and not subject to appeal.

Ouda – who has been always hailed as the ‘humane’ ‘minister of the poor’ – was accused of inciting murder and violence, obstructing roads, threatening public order, and resisting authorities!!

Hanan Tawfik, Baseem Ouda’s wife, said that the final ruling against her husband in the “blocking Qalyub road” case is  shameful,  saying that he wasn’t there during the events.

She wrote in her Facebook account that her husband didn’t participate in any protests or strikes there and that he didn’t witness blocking this road or other roads. She also stressed that the accusation evidence was mainly CDs presented in front of court which didn’t contain any photo of Dr. Bassem, according to her words. She added that the CDs didn’t even have one single word of incitement on blocking the road or violence.

She said: “Lord, I bear witness on you that my husband was subjected to those unfair rulings because he has believed in you, and has chosen the reform path and he has consumed all his efforts and time since he was assigned this duty. He has done all his best for his country’s prosperity.”

Dr. Bassem Ouda served as Minister of Supply during the Morsi era from January 5 to July 4, 2013. Despite his short term in office, he was hailed as “the minister of the poor”. He was also the youngest minister in the cabinet.

Aziz El-Kaissouni, visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said, “He is seen as credible, has a strong record of success [during his term as minister] and his performance was usually fairly efficient. He did a lot of good work in attempting to rationalize the price of natural gas and bread distribution systems.”

On May 17, 2016, Bassem made a viral speech before the judge in a court session, asking him: “I do not know why I’m here (in custody)! Is my crime that I lowered the price of oil for poor citizens? Or is it that I never sold off any Egyptian islands? Why am I here?”  (Dr. Bassem Ouda here refers to Al-Sisi who transferred Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty)