Mubarak, ministers fined $90 million

A CAIRO court has fined ousted president Hosni Mubarak and two ex-ministers $US90 million dollars ($A84.7 million) for “damaging the economy” with a telephone and Internet shutdown during Egypt’s uprising.

Mubarak, his former prime minister Ahmed Nazif and interior minister Habib al-Adly were on Saturday jointly “ordered to pay the state 540 million Egyptian pounds from their personal funds”, a judicial source said.

They were charged with “damaging the economy after their decision to cut internet and telephone services during the January 25 revolution”, the source said, referring to the revolt which led to Mubarak’s ouster on February 11.

Mubarak was ordered to pay 200 million Egyptian pounds ($A31.5 million), Nazif 40 million pounds (about ($A6.3 million), while Adly came out with the heaviest fine of 300 million pounds ($A47.3 million).

The three have the right to appeal the ruling.

Egypt’s four main internet service providers cut off access to their customers in a near-simultaneous move on January 28, just days after anti-Mubarak protests – many coordinated via the internet – broke out.

All three mobile-phone operators in Egypt were also instructed to suspend services and obliged to comply under Egyptian law, British-based Vodafone said in a statement at the time.

The five-day shutdown was the most comprehensive official electronic blackout of its kind, experts said.

About 23 million Egyptians have either regular or occasional access to the internet, according to official figures, making up more than a quarter of the population.

The communications shutdown drew international condemnation.

In Washington, US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Cairo to restore the internet and social networking sites.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network with nearly 600 million members, and Twitter also weighed in.

“Although the turmoil in Egypt is a matter for the Egyptian people and their government to resolve, limiting internet access for millions of people is a matter of concern for the global community,” said Andrew Noyes, a Facebook spokesman.

Twitter, which has more than 175 million registered users, said of efforts to block the service in Egypt: “We believe that the open exchange of info & views benefits societies & helps govts better connect w/ their people.”

The uprising, which kicked off on January 25 after a call went out on the internet, left at least 846 people dead and over 6000 injured.

Mubarak is in custody in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and is to face trial on charges of ordering the killing of protesters and with corruption.

His two sons, Alaa and Gamal, along with several officials of his regime are being held in Cairo’s Tora prison.

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