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Egypt Charges Government Figures With Corruption


Former Commerce Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid of Egypt (file photo)

Former Commerce Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid of Egypt (file photo)

Egypt's state prosecutor has launched a corruption investigation against three former government ministers and a member of parliament from Egypt's ruling National Democratic party, as protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square continued anti-government demonstrations for a 17th day.

Media reports Thursday say the investigation is targeting former Commerce Minister Rachid Mohammed Rachid, former Tourism Minister Zuhair Garana, former Housing Minister Ahmed Maghrabi and parliament member Ahmed Ezz.

The corruption investigations come as thousands of anti-government protesters remained in Cairo's Tahrir Square and outside Egypt's parliament building. A sea of black filled Tahrir Square as protesters held a funeral procession for some of those killed in protest-related violence.

In addition to the prolonged protests in the capital, the opposition has turned to labor actions across Egypt affecting tourism, textiles, railways and the government.

The protesters are seeking the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power for 30 years. They also are demanding the resignation of lawmakers elected late last year in a vote widely condemned as rigged in favor of the ruling party.

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman has said the government will not tolerate prolonged anti-government protests in Tahrir Square. He warned activists not to attempt more civil disobedience, calling it "extremely dangerous."

Protest organizers said they are working on plans to move to the state radio and television building Friday, when another mass demonstration has been called.

Protesters have turned Tahrir Square into a sprawling tent city, complete with medical facilities, charging stations for mobile phones, sound stages and a radio station.

A committee of judges and legal scholars appointed by Mr. Mubarak agreed Wednesday to propose six constitutional amendments and said further articles could also be changed.

But Egypt's banned Muslim Brotherhood, which broke ranks with the opposition to meet with Mr. Suleiman, rejected what it said were half-measures by the regime.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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