Sunday,23 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1124, 29 November - 5 December 2012
Sunday,23 September, 2018
Issue 1124, 29 November - 5 December 2012

Ahram Weekly

Stumbling blocks

The new prosecutor-general faces an uphill battle to win the confidence of judges, reports Ahmed Morsy

Al-Ahram Weekly

“I will not hesitate to work day and night to meet the goals of the revolution and uphold the law, for the sake of all those Egyptians who offered up great sacrifices to end the corruption that has dissipated the nation’s resources,” Talaat Ibrahim said on 23 November, a day after he was appointed prosecutor-general.
Article 3 of the constitutional declaration issued on Thursday by President Mohamed Morsi amended the regulations governing the appointment of the prosecutor-general. On the same day Morsi issued a decree replacing Mubarak-era prosecutor-general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud with Ibrahim, who will serve a four-year term in the post.
“I shall endeavour, in cooperation with my colleagues, to battle injustice and raise the banner of justice high. The great Egyptian people should be confident that we will return all their rights,” Ibrahim told the state-run Nile News Channel.
Ibrahim, 54, was born in the Gharbiya governorate city of Tanta. He was a leading member of the group of judges who campaigned for greater judicial independence under Mubarak. A vice president of the Court of Cassation, he sat on the committee formed by the Judges Club that was instrumental in exposing electoral fraud following the 2005 parliamentary elections.
Morsi’s latest constitutional declaration was issued in tandem with a law on the protection of the revolution containing provisions for extraordinary courts to try those accused of offences against protesters during the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. According to Ibrahim, a revolution protection prosecution will soon be launched to oversee investigations into those charged with offences against demonstrators during the course of the 25 January Revolution. The revolution protection prosecution will include members from the prosecutor-general’s office alongside investigating judges assigned by the Ministry of Justice. What evidence they will be considering remains a moot point.
That Mubarak-era officials be held accountable for their role in the killing of more than 1,000 protesters is a longstanding demand of the revolution. Ibrahim has announced that fresh investigations will be opened into the cases of 17 security chiefs and 53 officers and policemen previously acquitted of charges of killing protesters. While he insists that revolution prosecutors will be able to summon all evidence held by the Ministry of Interior and intelligence agencies, commentators point out that the vast bulk of incriminating documents will already have been destroyed by the very agencies that are supposed to help the investigators.
Mubarak, 84, was sentenced to life imprisonment in June for failing to prevent the killing of protesters. While that sentence implies the former president was in a position to end the carnage Egypt’s massed ranks of prosecutors and investigators have singularly failed to indicate who should have been told not to pull the trigger. Similarly, in October, Cairo Criminal Court acquitted all 30 defendants accused of organising violent attacks against protesters in Tahrir Square on 2 February 2011, in what came to be known as the Battle of the Camel. The consistent inability to hold anyone to account for the mass slaughter of protesters is at best a shameful indictment of incompetence on the part of law enforcement agencies and investigators.
Inevitably, demands for a purge of the judiciary and the dismissal of Mubarak appointee Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud as prosecutor-general became a regular feature of street protests.
Mahmoud’s successor, Ibrahim, began his first day in the job by meeting with staff of his technical office. Following the meeting Ibrahim said he had been offered their full support. Yet reports have been widely circulated that a number of attorney-generals have petitioned the Supreme Judicial Council to allow them quit their prosecution posts and resume their positions on the bench. Prosecutors also staged a partial strike on Sunday to protest against the dismissal of Mahmoud, which they say constitutes flagrant executive interference in the judiciary.
Nor can Ibrahim expect a warm welcome from judges clubs. During an emergency general assembly on Saturday Cairo judges clubs called on him to resign his appointment.
Mahmoud responded to his own dismissal by threatening to go public with incriminating information he claims to hold on the Muslim Brotherhood, from whose ranks Morsi hails.

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