Judges rise against Morsy’s power grab, announce strike

The Egyptian judiciary continued its escalation against President Mohamed Morsy’s recent constitutional declaration Saturday, calling for an immediate strike in all courts and prosecutors offices. 

The Judges Club called on Morsy to rescind the decree and reinstate the prosecutor general, with three provincial courts going on strike and judicial bodies strongly condemning the decision.

The Judges Club held an emergency meeting at the High Court, while MENA reported that the Supreme Judicial Council described the decree as an “unprecedented attack” on judicial independence, calling on Morsy during an emergency meeting Thursday to “distance this decree from everything that violates the authority of the judiciary.”

Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said there will be no dialogue with the president until he retracts the "dictatorial decree." 

"There is no room for dialogue when a dictator imposes the most oppressive, abhorrent measures and then says 'let us split the difference,'" he told Reuters in an interview Saturday. 

Additionally, four attorney generals sent letters to the council Saturday morning asking for their Public Prosecution assignments to be terminated. The letters coincided with the appointment of Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah to succeed Abdel Meguid Mahmoud as prosecutor general. Attorneys general seeking the transfer of their assignments included Attorney General of Public Funds Prosecutions Ali al-Hawari and Assistant Prosecutor General Adnan Fangary.

Judicial sources also told Al-Masry Al-Youm that seven other attorneys general are preparing similar letters, pending the outcome of the Judges Club’s emergency general assembly Saturday afternoon. The club will attempt to unify its stance against the declaration during the meeting. The Judges Club, under its Chair Ahmed al-Zend, has been highly critical of many of Morsy’s recent decisions.

Meanwhile, the Courts of First Instance in Alexandria and Damanhour, along with the Assiut Court of Appeals, have suspended their work, announcing in separate press releases that they were striking because Morsy placed all of his decisions beyond judicial oversight.

A group of judges belonging to the independent judiciary movement, which previously stood against former President Hosni Mubarak, has also declared their opposition to the constitutional declaration and demanded that Morsy cancel it.

The judges included Zaghloul al-Balshi, who is the assistant to the justice minister in the Judicial Inspection Department, as well as Hisham Raouf, who is also an assistant to the justice minister.

"This package of decisions, although it contains some demands of the masses, unfortunately came at the expense of democracy and freedoms,” the judges said in a statement.

The statement added that the reopening of investigations and prosecutions under the constitutional declaration undermines judicial authority and independence.

The Board of Directors of Minya’s Judge’s Club on Friday also demanded the president rescind the declaration, calling it a threat not only to judicial authority but to the state itself.

In a statement, the board said after an emergency meeting Friday that retrying defendants for the same crime is against the law and judicial principles. The statement also said that it was not permissible to make any law or decision immune from judicial review regardless of their source.

The board added that the recent appointment of a new attorney general was done without consulting the Supreme Judicial Council, in contravention of judicial law and constitutional norms.

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