Egypt boosts compulsory drug tests after train crash that killed 25

A crowd surveys a damaged train inside Ramsis train station in Cairo, Egypt, on Feb. 27, 2019, hours after a fiery train collision that killed 25 people. (AP file photo)
Updated 14 March 2019
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Egypt boosts compulsory drug tests after train crash that killed 25

  • Probers blamed last month's deadly train collission at Cairo's train station to a drug addicted driver
  • The driver was found to have left his train without turning off its engine

CAIRO: School bus drivers, rail workers and university students in Egypt face more compulsory drug tests in the wake of last month’s deadly train crash at in Cairo.

Nearly 30 school bus drivers are being prosecuted after testing positive for hashish, morphine or Tramadol, a cheap over-the-counter medicine that is popular among low-income earners.

Twenty-five people died in last month’s incident at Ramses station in Cairo, when a runaway train hit platform buffers and its fuel tank exploded in a fireball. The driver was subsequently found to be a drug addict.

Out of 5,000 railway employees tested, many were positive, said Amr Osman, director of the Fund for Drug Control and Treatment. Exact numbers will be revealed later, he said. Now Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity has formed a medical committee to test almost 1,500 school bus drivers in the governorates of Cairo, Giza, Sharqeya, Gharbeya and Daqahleya.

Those who test positive will be referred to the Public Prosecution. Offenders will face imprisonment for at least two years and a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($574).

Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar said his ministry was also looking into drug testing university students. This would put students who were vulnerable or exposed to drugs “back on the rightful path,” he said. 

“In education, we have a crucial role to combat drugs, not just with drug testing but also with raising awareness on the dire consequences of drug addiction.”

According to a 2018 study published by the Health Ministry, 24 percent of more than 10,000 students had experimented with drugs.

In the 2016-17 school year, 150 out of 4,000 school bus drivers were prosecuted for testing positive for drugs.


Algeria graft prosecutor refers two ex PMs to supreme court

Updated 6 min 2 sec ago
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Algeria graft prosecutor refers two ex PMs to supreme court

  • Former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal who served under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika were referred to the Supreme Court
  • Five other former ministers were also referred

ALGIERS: An Algerian prosecutor investigating graft allegations has referred two former prime ministers and five former ministers to the supreme court, Ennahar TV reported on Sunday citing a statement from the prosecution.
Mass protests have broken out in Algeria demanding the removal of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people demonstrators regard as corrupt. The seven politicians will be investigated by the court over alleged corruption cases, Ennahar said, without providing details.
They include former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal who served under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika who resigned on April 2 after coming under pressure from protesters and the army.
The list of the former ministers, who are under investigation, includes Amara Benyounes, Abdelakader Zaalane, Amar Ghoul, Karim Djoudi and Abdessalam Bouchouareb.
They were in charge of the sectors of trade, transport, public works, finance and industry respectively.
Their lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.
The army is now the most powerful institution after the departure of Bouteflika, who had ruled the North African country since 1999.
Army chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah has said major corruption cases would be pursued to try to appease the protests that started on Feb.22.
Bouteflika's youngest brother, Said, and two former intelligence chiefs have been placed in custody by a military judge over "harming the army's authority and plotting against state authority."
At least five prominent businessmen have also been detained pending trial over involvement in corruption cases.
Protesters also want the resignation of interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Beoui, who are considered as part of the ruling elite that has run the country since independence from France in 1962.