CAIRO: Manshiyet Nasser Misdemeanors Court on Wednesday handed deputy Cairo governor a five-year suspended sentence for the involuntary manslaughter and injury of the Duweiqa residents.
Mahmoud Yassin was also ordered to pay a LE 5,000 bail. Seven other officials from the district authority as well as the housing and property management departments were handed down a three-year suspended sentence and a LE 3,000 bail each for the same charges.
The court "punished the accused in light of what was proven, that they committed the crimes of accidentally killing and injuring the victims," the official news agency MENA said.
“This is the least that can be done to obtain the rights of those who died, wounded or became homeless as a result of the accident,” independent MP Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat told Daily News Egypt.
“I hope this can be a model of the sovereignty of law, which emphasizes that whoever fails to do his job will be penalized regardless of his position,” he added.
In September 2008, huge boulders and rocks crashed down Muqattam Hill in Duweiqa onto Ezbet Bekhit in the Manshiyet Nasser neighborhoods of east Cairo, home to around a million of the city’s poorest residents. A total of 119 people were killed and 55 others injured in the accident.
Investigations revealed that the officials failed to respond to official technical reports conducted before the accident. The reports called for evacuating all residents at the upper part of Duweiqa as well as building a fence around the area to protect it from sewage water.
A committee of experts formed by the prosecution office also attributed the rockslide to the geological nature of the area, which has many fractures, in addition to the dense population and the lack of a proper sewage system. These factors led to water leakages, eventually resulting in the rockslide.
In November 2009, Amnesty International released a report entitled “Buried Alive; Trapped by Poverty and Neglect in Cairo’s Informal Settlements” criticizing the Egyptian authorities for failing to take effective steps to protect the residents of Duweiqa.
The report called on the Egyptian government to alleviate the threats to lives in the 26 "unsafe areas" in Greater Cairo, and to protect the residents’ rights to health and adequate housing.