Jailed Mubarak cronies bargain for freedom: Assets in exchange for release

Freedom is expensive but not priceless

Cairo - Members of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's regime, in jail for corruption, have offered their assets in exchange for their release, Egyptian state media reported on Thursday.
The government says it is considering the deal, which would pump vital money into the suffering economy, but the move risks infuriating protesters who pushed to put the officials on trial.
Since the popular uprising that ousted Egypt's veteran strongman last year, dozens of ex-ministers and old regime associates have been imprisoned on graft charges.
Some of the former officials are now offering their assets in exchange for their release, finance minister Mumtaz Said was quoted as saying in the state-owned daily Al-Ahram.
"Getting the money back from those in Tora (prison) will be to Egypt's benefit, considering the difficult circumstances the country is going through," Said said.
"As finance minister, I see it is in the country's interest to negotiate, as long as the law is not against reconciliation in cases of financial corruption," he said.
He said that the money received would go into the country's dwindling reserves.
State television said former minister of housing Ahmed al-Maghrabi and Ahmed Ezz, a steel magnate and senior member of the former ruling party, have offered their assets for their freedom.
It was not clear who else was involved in the negotiations, and whether they include Mubarak's two sons Alaa and Gamal, also in jail for fraud.
According to Al-Ahram, "money stolen from Egypt amounts to 225 billion dollars."
Mubarak himself is on trial, accused of involvement in the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising. The verdict in his case is set for June.