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Justice ministry blasts planned Friday rally for 'purge' of Egypt judiciary

Ministry spokesman condemns Muslim Brotherhood's calls for Friday demonstration outside Egypt's High Court to demand purge of judiciary from Mubarak-era elements

Ahram Online , Thursday 18 Apr 2013
Egyptian judges attend a meeting at Egypt's Judges Club in Cairo in 2011, (Photo: Reuters).
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Justice Ministry spokesman Ahmed Rushdy on Thursday slammed recent calls by political parties and groups – including the Muslim Brotherhood – to hold a Friday rally outside the High Court in downtown Cairo to demand the purge of Egypt's judiciary.

In a press release, Rushdy stressed the ministry's rejection of the planned protest, calling it "a form of aggression against judicial authority."

"Judicial independence doesn't only mean stopping the executive authority from pressuring the judiciary; it also includes defending the judiciary from public pressure and the influence of political groups," read the ministry statement.

The statement added: "The reform of constitutional institutions generally and the judiciary specifically will not come from outside by protesting and shouting, but rather from inside, according to rules and regulations as laid down by the law."

The ministry also stressed that its position remained unchanged regarding a proposed judicial authority law and calls to lower the retirement age for judges.

"The retirement age should not be used to realise political objectives, whether by raising it or lowering it," the statement read. "Any amendment to the judicial authority law should be made following negotiations with judges and should take their opinions into consideration according to the terms of the constitution."

The statement added that the justice ministry in January had sent a letter to the Egyptian Judges Club, regional judges clubs, the Supreme Judicial Council, the High Constitutional Court and all judicial agencies in Egypt to hear their recommendations regarding the law.

"The ministry is still awaiting their suggestions," the statement asserted.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called for a protest on Friday at the High Court in downtown Cairo both to demand a purge of the judiciary from Mubarak-era elements and to call on the Shura Council (the upper house of Egypt's parliament, currently endowed with legislative powers) to pass the proposed judicial authority law.

Among the proposed law's articles is one that would lower judges' legal retirement age from 70 to 60, which would effectively mean the retirement of some 3,500 judges.

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