Wednesday,13 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1137, 28 February - 6 March 2013
Wednesday,13 December, 2017
Issue 1137, 28 February - 6 March 2013

Ahram Weekly

Judges’ fight continues

The Supreme Judicial Council is to strip the chair of the country’s Judges Club of his legal immunity,
reports Reem Leila

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Reports on Tuesday said that Egypt’s Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) has started taking measures to strip judge Ahmed Al-Zend, chair of the country’s Judges Club, of his legal immunity.

The measures are being taken at the request of Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdallah in order to question Al-Zend on the charges levelled against him. Abdallah submitted the request to the SJC upon the recommendation of the head of the public funds prosecution service Mustafa Al-Husseini.

Al-Husseini is in charge of a case that involves accusations directed at Al-Zend to the effect that he benefited from his post in order to acquire 180 feddans of land with the help of others in the coastal cities of Marsa Matrouh and Ras Al-Barr.

SJC members have not confirmed or denied the reports, and any actions taken against Al-Zend are likely to remain confidential, at least for the time being. Meanwhile, hundreds of the country’s judges have rejected the moves against Al-Zend, saying that he is innocent of the charges brought against him.

On 22 February, the judges criticised Al-Husseini for the action he was proposing to take against Al-Zend at an extraordinary general meeting of the Judges Club. During the meeting, which was headed by Al-Zend, the judges criticised Abdallah and demanded that he step down from his post.

According to the judges, Abdallah’s appointment had not been carried out according to the correct procedures and it had come following the illegal dismissal of former prosecutor-general Abdel-Maguid Mahmoud.

They judges also submitted a petition to the SJC to ban Abdallah from attending the council’s meetings even if this meant that the SJC would have to suspend its meetings.

However, one member of the SJC said on condition of anonymity that the petition submitted by members of the Judges Club was not acceptable. “There was nothing illegal in the appointment of Abdallah,” he said.

Meanwhile, judge Zakaria Abdel-Aziz said that if the SJC accepted the judges’ petition they would ask a legal committee of the Judges Club to file a suit in court to appeal against the decisions made by the SJC with the participation of Abdallah.

“All decisions in which he participated will be null and void and should be annulled. We have given Abdallah one week to resign from his post,” Abdel-Aziz said, adding that if he refused to resign the judges would take further action against him as well as against the SJC.

According to Abdel-Aziz, this action could include sending a petition to the International Judges Federation and asking it to support Egypt’s judges and judicial system against what he called attempts to hinder its independence. “We will provide the Federation with documents proving our argument,” Abdel-Aziz said.

Attendees at the extraordinary meeting also agreed to hold an international conference to inform the world’s judges of what they called the violations carried out by the Egyptian government against members of the judicial system. “Many judges in the Arab countries, as well as in some European countries, have expressed their support for our stance,” Abdel-Aziz said.

During the extraordinary meeting, Al-Zend attacked both Abdallah and minister of justice Ahmed Mekki. “Abdallah is not the prosecutor-general. He is just a private prosecutor. He does what the Muslim Brotherhood wants him to do, which is to Islamise the judicial system. We will not allow them to do so. We will fight until the end. We are fighting for our dignity, our pride and the independence of our judicial system,” Al-Zend said.

Judge Abdallah Fathi, vice-chair of the Judges Club and deputy head of the Court of Appeal, said that Egypt’s judges would not abide by any decision or decree issued by Abdallah as they believed his appointment was illegal.

“We all blame Abdallah for his strange insistence on continuing in his post, despite protests by the judges as well as by members of the prosecution service. Egypt’s judges will not fail the Egyptian public, and they promise to continue their fight to defend the independence of the judicial system, as well as people’s freedoms and rights,” he said.

Fathi added that the country’s judges had always been in the forefront of any patriotic mission. Most judges were against the prosecutor-general because they considered his actions to be a violation of their authority as well as of their independence, he said.

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