'Mubarak had no role in gas deal with Israel'

Controversial deal was made by Egyptian intelligence agency, Mubarak had no part in negotiations, Farid al-Deeb says.

Mubarak laying down in court 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Mubarak laying down in court 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There is no evidence linking former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and the controversial gas deal with Israel, Mubarak's defense lawyer said on Saturday.
According to the lawyer, Farid al-Deeb, it was Egypt's intelligence agency that negotiated the 2005 deal, which resulted in $714 million in losses, according to AFP, due to below-market value pricing.
Mubarak no tyrant, defense tells Egypt court
Deeb said statements by the former head of Egypt's intelligence services, Oman Suleiman, "ascertain that [Mubarak] was not involved in the pricing process or anything else concerning the deal," arguing that the deal was carried out in accordance with "international norms."
Mubarak is charged with approving the gas agreement with Israel. Prosecutors say it was a bad deal for Egypt and allowed businessman Hussein Salem to make illegal profits.
Salem was a major shareholder in East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), which carried out the exports. Egyptian opposition groups long complained that EMG sold gas at preferential prices to Israel and other countries, costing Egypt billions of dollars in lost revenue.
A court that handed Salem a seven-year prison sentence in absentia in October said he and his family laundered more than $2 billion from the sales.
The deal was struck with Israel - which used Egyptian gas for as much as 40 percent of its electricity needs - in order to create common interests with Israel, enhance the peace process and improve Egypt's influence over Israel, according to Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.
When Mubarak learned of the sub-standard rates, he personally requested an amended contract, and threatened to halt gas exports if they continued under the same rate, according to the Egyptian newspaper.
Since the uprising, Egyptian officials have called for a redrafted contract, with one petroleum minister saying in October of last year that new gas prices to Israel would be markedly higher.
Israel felt the energy crunch this past year when gas from Egypt stops flowing, as terrorists in Sinai have blown up the supplying pipeline ten times, even when gas was not running through it.
Israel is seeking to develop a domestic natural gas supply by drilling in the Mediterranean Sea, but the fruits of that endeavor will not be seen until at least 2013.
Mubarak is standing trial for allegedly ordering the killing of hundreds of demonstrators during the 18-day uprising that led to his ouster in February of last year.
Deeb rejected those claims in a previous hearing, saying there was no legal evidence to back the claims.
Prosecutors have called for the former Egyptian leader to be hanged for his crimes.
Reuters contributed to this report