Al-Adly is also accused of ordering police to fire upon pro-democracy protesters during the revolution [EPA]

Habib al-Adly, Egypt's former interior minister, has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for money laundering and profiteering.

Al-Adly, who is accused of ordering police to fire upon pro-democracy protesters who ousted Hosni Mubarak, the president, in February, is one of the most senior ministers from the former government to be put on trial.

His conviction on Thursday in a Cairo court came as Mubarak and his sons are being quizzed for abuse of office .

The military council which now rules Egypt has said it wants to crack down on abuses of power and corruption. 

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from the Egyptian capital, said the charges were "really at the heart of the request by the protest movement; protesters had been urging the prosecution of these men - former regime officials - in what has been described as a cleansing campaign of state institutions".

"This is going to be welcomed by the protest movement," she said.

"But still the country's new military leaders despite [their] attempts to bring back the money that was squandered by these men, and to hold these officials acountable, they're still being criticised for moving a little bit too slowly for the protesters' taste."

Al-Adly has been accused of selling land to an interior ministry contractor "illegally and received more than $700,000 in kickbacks", our correspondent said.

"On Thursday, the judge ordered that amount confiscated and also ordered the former interior minister to return more than $2.3m that he had illegally acquired in just three months before the revolution," she said.

"He was interior minister for 14 years and despite repeated campaigns against him by activists over a lot of accusations and not least ... brutality and overseeing systematic torture, al-Adly was never questioned and managed to retain his position for all these years."

Abdallah Schleifer, professor emeritus at the American University in Cairo, told Al Jazeera from London that the charges people are more concerned about involved ordering "security forces to open fire on unarmed demonstrators".

Schleifer said the former minister was "responsible for setting up snipers", adding that "basically the charges he has yet to stand trial for are far more serious".

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies