Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013
Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013

Ahram Weekly

Charges and counter-charges

The struggle between the Cairo Judges Club and the prosecutor-general has been escalating, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

A general assembly meeting of the Cairo Judges Club is scheduled to be held tomorrow, Friday 22 February, to discuss the crisis surrounding the country’s prosecutor-general, Talaat Abdallah, who was appointed by President Mohamed Morsi, and what members describe as the “non-stop attempts” to tarnish the club chairman, judge Ahmed Al-Zend.
On 16 February, Al-Zend submitted a complaint to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), asking for the head of the Public Funds Prosecution Service, Mustafa Al-Husseini, to be stripped of his immunity and questioned on charges of leaking false news to the media relating to charges levelled against the club chairman.
Al-Zend also claimed that Al-Husseini had been involved in legal violations and interference in previous investigations. As a result, he should step down from supervising investigations into the club’s head, Al-Zend said, also citing Al-Husseini’s personal bias against him.
Al-Zend has been accused of personally benefiting from his post and of illegally seizing 180 feddans of land in the coastal cities of Marsa Matrouh and Ras Al-Bar with the help of others.
Al-Husseini asked Abdallah to strip Al-Zend of his immunity, a necessary step before investigations into his conduct could begin. Abdallah accepted Al-Husseini’s request and referred the matter to the SJC.
However, a few hours later a spokesman for the prosecution-general, Mustafa Dweidar, denied that the measures had been taken. “The prosecutor-general did not submit a request to the SJC for Al-Zend to be stripped of his immunity,” he said.
According to the judiciary law, no criminal action or investigation can be brought against judges or members of the prosecution service unless permission is granted by the SJC lifting their immunity.
Hundreds of judges have rejected any investigations into Al-Zend, insisting that he is innocent of the charges brought against him.
Judge Ezzat Agwa, head of the Alexandria Judges Club, said that “Al-Zend is 100 per cent innocent of the charges brought against him, and he is being attacked because of his stance towards the prosecutor-general. Al-Zend has documents proving his innocence of such cheap charges,” Agwa said.
“Al-Zend is the legal representative of Egypt’s judges, and any unjustified accusations brought against him due to his stance in defending the independence of the judicial system against outside interference is totally unacceptable,” Agwa added.
Deputy Chief Justice of the Court of Cassation Mahmoud Helmi Al-Sherif said that Egypt’s judges had no objection to conducting investigations into Al-Zend on the condition that their results would be made public.
“At the same time, we refuse any attempt to accuse the head of Egypt’s Judges Club of false charges,” Al-Sherif said, adding that the judicial community would unite against any attempt to defame Al-Zend.
Al-Sherif said that Al-Husseini should be sanctioned for his conduct in the matter. “According to the law, such procedures are confidential and any breach is a violation of the law,” he said.
Al-Zend has been calling for Abdallah’s dismissal since the latter’s appointment by Morsi last November, saying that the appointment was illegal since Morsi had allegedly gone beyond his powers.
Al-Zend was one of the judicial figures to take an active stance against Morsi in the wake of the 22 November constitutional declaration in which the president declared himself to be immune from judicial oversight.
Al-Zend mobilised the judges to stage a nationwide strike in response, complaining that former prosecutor-general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud had also been illegally dismissed from his post.
Ahead of tomorrow’s general assembly meeting, Al-Zend has called upon judges to discuss means of pressuring Abdallah to step down.
“It would be unacceptable to discuss personal matters relating to me during the general assembly meeting,” Al-Zend said, adding that the judges had kept their promise to Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki and returned to work in order to calm tensions resulting from the stand-off between Abdallah and members of the judicial system.
Last December, Al-Zend was attacked by a group of unknown assailants in front of the Judges Club, causing him slight injuries.
Three suspects were interrogated on charges of illegal assembly and possession of firearms, but were later released on bail for lack of evidence. No weapons were found and witness testimony was contradictory.

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