The European Court of Justice has overturned sanctions imposed in 2011 against the family of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. The judgment, issued by the court on December 3, 2020, consolidated appeals in two cases challenging restrictive measures imposed by the Council of the European Union on March 21, 2011 based on the Mubarak family members’ status in judicial proceedings brought by the Egyptian authorities in connection with the alleged misappropriation of state funds. The sanctions were challenged by the affected parties in 2017 on several grounds, including infringement of the principle of proportionality, lack of legal basis, failure to protect fundamental rights, failure to allow the parties to conduct an effective defense, infringement of property rights, and reputational damage. These challenges were rejected by the General Court, and the Mubarak family appealed.
The appellants claimed that the General Court erred in finding that the Council was not required to ensure that the Egyptian authorities had acted in accordance with the appellants’ fundamental rights; that the Council was not required to verify that the judicial proceedings concerned acts capable of undermining the rule of law in Egypt, and; by allowing the Council to rely on certain allegations of corruption and money laundering.
The ECJ agreed with the appellants that the Council should have verified that the judgments on which it relied had been adopted in accordance with the right to adequate defense and judicial protection. The court concluded that the judgment should be set aside without addressing the appellants’ additional grounds for appeal. The ECJ judgment sets aside restrictions on the Mubarak family’s assets through 2018, but does not remove the restrictions in effect in 2019 and 2020.