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[Published: Wednesday March 11 2009]

Jail term for Egypt ferry owner

Cairo, 11 March-(ANA)-An Egyptian appeals court has sentenced the owner of a ferry that sank killing more than 1,000 people, to seven years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

The ruling overturns Mamduh Ismail's acquittal over the sinking of the Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 in the Red Sea.

That ruling had outraged many in Egypt who believed the businessman was being protected by his political connections.

Ismail is believed to be in Europe and was sentenced in absentia. He denies being responsible for the 2006 sinking.

Following the disaster the fugitive owner of the ferry paid $57m into a compensation fund for the victims - about $50,000 for each family of those killed.

Ismail, a former MP, has accused the ship's captain, who went down with his ship, of overestimating the crew's ability to fight a fire that broke out on board.

The court also sentenced two other defendants in absentia to three years in prison each over the tragedy, but acquitted two. (ANA)

FA/ANA/11 March 2009---

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