Rachid, the former trade minister, was also ordered to pay a $1.57 million fine [Reuters]

An Egyptian court has convicted a former trade minister in absentia, sentencing him to five years in prison for profiteering and squandering public funds, the MENA news agency reports.

Rachid Mohamed Rachid was sentenced on Saturday, MENA reported, and was also ordered to pay $1.57 million (9.385 million Egyptian pounds) in fines. The court ruled that he had unlawfully seized public money from a government export development fund.

Rachid fled Cairo shortly after the start of the uprising in which Hosni Mubarak, the country's former president, was overthrown.

In an interview with al-Arabiya television in February, Rachid denied any wrongdoing during his tenure. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Egypt is trying a number of former ministers and aides, in addition to Mubarak himself. All of those under investigation are being held in prisons on various charges.

Earlier in June, a Cairo court convicted Youssef Boutros-Ghali, the former finance minister, in absentia, sentencing him to 30 years in prison for profiteering and abusing state and private assets.

Israeli's detention extended

Egyptian security services, meanwhile, have renewed the detention of a US-born Israeli who is being held on charges of engaging in espionage.

A security official told the Associated Press new agency that 27-year-old Ilan Grapel is to spend 15 more days in detention pending further investigations.

Grapel was arrested two weeks ago, and Egypt says that he is a Mossad agent. Pictures of Grapel in Israeli military uniform have been widely published in Egyptian newspapers since his capture.

Israel denies that he was a spy, saying that he was working for a legal aid project in Cairo.

Source: Agencies