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Lawyers' sit-in enters second day in Nasr City

Lawyers continue protesting at Nasr City's police station demanding the prosecution of policemen who attacked their colleagues Friday; presidential office promises swift action

Ahram Online, Saturday 7 Jul 2012
Egypt's lawyers continue sit-in by Nasr City's police station for the second day
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A number of Egyptian lawyers continue their sit-in in front of a police station in Cairo's middle-upper class Nasr City district for the second day following a violent altercation between lawyers and policemen in the early hours of Friday.

The sit-in is still being observed, though the presidential office of newly-inaugurated President Mohamed Morsi has vowed to fulfil their demands. The Ministry of Interior released a statement condemning what it described as an attack on lawyers on Friday at the Nasr City police station.

The ministry pledged to put the policemen accused of involvement in the melee on trial within 48 hours.

However, Mohamed Othman, head of the North Cairo chapter of Egypt's Lawyers' Syndicate, said the ministry's statement is not enough and that the sit-in would go on until lawyers' demands are met.

Sameh Ashour, head of the Lawyers' Syndicate overall, has demanded the suspension and prosecution of all policemen involved in the incident, adding that until all demands are met, lawyers will continue their sit-in where the clashes occurred, threatening to call for a mass protest across the country.

Earlier on Friday, Ashour said that Egypt's lawyers would deny all policemen any legal representation at trial across the country until their demands are met. Ashour stated that acting presidential spokesman Yasser Ali promised swift action to meet their demands.

It was unclear how the clashes that left 16 injured among both lawyers and policemen started. The state-owned news agency MENA reported Friday that an altercation started when one lawyer asked to see a client detained at the police station. When a low-ranking officer told him to wait the lawyer allegedly got irrate and threw a chair at him.

However, speaking to Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news site, the deputy head of North Cairo's Lawyers' Syndicate, Abdel-Gowad Ahmed, told a different story. According to Ahmed, police officers initiated the assault after refusing to grant the lawyer leave to visit his client. The lawyer's colleagues later joined: "We were 10 lawyers against the whole station's staff; they pointed their guns at us," he added

"The assistant head of security later came and treated us worse, which encouraged the station's staff to go on with their assault," said Ahmed.

Ahmed stated that lawyers who started a sit-in at Nasr City's police station following the events are now demanding the removal of the interior minister, whose police forces are still using methods practiced under the old regime. They also demand the removal of the head of security and his assistant for failing to interfere.

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