Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Pressure to leave anew

Judiciary members are urging the prosecutor-general to once again resign, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

Heads of several Judges Club branches from Egypt’s provinces met on 31 December with Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekki to discuss the repercussions of the prosecutor-general’s current dilemma. During the meeting, judges stressed that ending the strike by judges and prosecutors was conditional on the departure of Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdallah who was appointed by President Mohamed Morsi.
The meeting with Mekki was held just one hour after another meeting with members of the Supreme Judiciary Council (SJC), which was said to be fruitless. Judge Ahmed Al-Zend, head of the Cairo Judges Club did not attend Mekki’s meeting.
Abdallah, who was appointed by President Mohamed Morsi last November based upon his presidential constitutional declaration, previously stepped down on 20 December, after more than 1,500 prosecution members rallied in front of his office on 17 December calling for his resignation. A few days later, Abdallah rescinded his resignation, citing that he was pressured to step down, and that, accordingly, his resignation was illegal.  
Members of the prosecution held a meeting on Wednesday during which they discussed possible means of escalation in order to pressure Abdallah into quitting his post. Prosecutors decided to resume their strike until Abdallah resigns. They also sent a collective petition to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) confirming their refusal to resume work except after Abdallah’s resignation.
According to the petition, prosecutors believe that Abdallah was illegally appointed. “The way in which Abdallah was appointed prosecutor-general has violated the constitution and law,” the petition said. “We the prosecutors will immediately return to work as soon as Abdallah resigns,” the letter added.
Meanwhile, Mekki promised judges as well as prosecution members to end the current crisis within the next two weeks in coordination with the SJC. Mekki suggested an initiative to solve the ongoing crisis in a way that would preserve the dignity of the prosecutor-general and that of the judiciary. Mekki, however, refrained from providing any further details regarding the means of solving the problem. “The solution will assure judges and the prosecution and preserve people’s interests and welfare,” said Mekki.
Mekki expressed regret over the current mayhem surrounding the country’s judiciary system. “We appeal to the media, politicians, judges, as well as the public to be cautions to be able preserve the judiciary’s reputation as well as that of judges. This will help in preserving its dignity and respect in the community,” said the ministry in a statement. “They should not attack judges or others in order to incite discord and confirm the principle of the rule of law and independence of the judiciary.”
Al-Zend will hold an urgent meeting tomorrow at the Judges Club in Cairo to consider possible means of escalation against the prosecutor-general.
“Neither judges nor prosecutors like to suspend their work,” Al-Zend said. “But there was no other option except to fight back the transgression which happened to the judicial authority. If the prosecutor-general resigns and is later on nominated by the SJC, judges along with prosecutors will welcome him,” he said.
Al-Zend added that former prosecutor-general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud was unjustly and illegally dismissed from his post. At the same time, he summoned prosecutors to return to work, confirming that Abdallah said he needed time to think before quitting.
On 26 December Al-Zend and some Judges Club heads from various governorates visited Abdallah in his office. Al-Zend pointed out after the meeting, which was reportedly friendly, that relationships between all judges is based on mutual understanding, cooperation and respect. “I call on the prosecutor-general to take these principles into consideration,” Al-Zend added.
Judge Abdallah Fathi, deputy head of the Cairo Judges Club, told the press that SJC members informed them they have no authority to pressure Abdallah to resign. “All we can do is to continue calling on Abdallah to resign from his post. What else can we do? Nothing,” they said.
Fathi added, “we do not want a prosecutor-general who belongs to a certain faction or a group. In this way, he would implement their own policy and serve their interests at the expense of others. Anyone who is involved in politics is not fit to be the country’s prosecutor-general because he will be biased.”
O 26 December the SJC and the Judges Club issued a joint statement urging Abdallah to resign and return to his original work as a judge.
Official presidential spokesman Yasser Ali commented, saying Abdallah “will remain in his post for four years. The country’s new constitution stipulates that the prosecutor-general’s tenure is limited to four years.”
Some political groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, claimed that prosecutors had threatened Abdallah to attack him physically if he did not resign, an allegation which the Judges Club has denied.

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