CAIRO : An Egyptian court acquitted on Saturday an oil minister who served under ex-strongman Hosni Mubarak in a retrial after a 2012 conviction for selling Israel natural gas at below market price.

The Cairo court acquitted former oil minister Sameh Fahmi along with five other petroleum officials. An appeals court ordered a retrial in March 2013 for the defendants after they were initially found guilty in 2012 and sentenced to between 3 and 15 years in jail. Several Mubarak-era figures including the ousted autocrat have been acquitted in retrials after being initially condemned. In November, Mubarak and his interior minister Habib al-Adly were cleared of charges of killing peaceful protesters during the 2011 uprising that unseated him. Mubarak was also cleared in that trial of exporting gas to Israel at below market price.

The sale of gas to Israel, which signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979 after four wars, was always controversial in the Arab world's most populous country. Sinai-based militants have continuously sabotaged the pipeline after Mubarak's ouster in 2011 until the export deal was halted in April 2012.