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Egypt's judges divided over Morsi's controversial decrees
Judges' Club holds extraordinary general assembly to denounce recent constitutional decrees by president Morsi; 'Judges for Egypt' supports decrees and calls opponents 'remnants' of Mubarak regime
Ahram Online, MENA, Randa Ali, Hatem Maher, Saturday 24 Nov 2012
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Egypt
Ahmed El-Zend, the head of the Judge's Club - a fierce critic of the president - at the general assembly (Photo: Snapshot from Al -Jazeera live stream Egypt)

Egypt's judiciary battled one another in separate extraordinary meetings and assemblies on Saturday over president Mohamed Morsi's recently issued constitutional decrees. Some condemned the president's moves while others charged opponents of Morsi are lackeys for the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak.

Judges' Club slams Morsi

Hundreds of judges held an extraordinary general assembly for the Judges' Club at the High Court headquarters in downtown Cairo to discuss measures against President Morsi's constitutional decree issued Thursday, which they argue oversteps their judicial jurisdiction and independence.

Meanwhile, during an emergency meeting on Saturday afternoon, Egypt's Supreme Judiciary Council (SJC) issued a statement expressing their disappointment over the decrees and described Morsi's move as "unprecedented attack on judiciary independence."

Courts and prosecution offices in the Delta governorate of Qalioubiya went on strike Saturday.

The primary court of Egypt's second-largest city, Alexandria, likewise went on strike and further issued a statement on Saturday demanding the retraction of the recent constitutional declaration.

The chief of the Judges' Club of Alexandria, Mohamed Ezzat El-Agwa announced "the suspension of work in all courts and prosecution administrations in the governorates of Alexandria and Beheira... until the end of the crisis caused by this declaration," according to AFP reporting.

Several anti-Muslim Brotherhood figures have joined the extraordinary assembly.

Former parliament member Mohamed Abou-Hamed, outspoken lawyer Mortada Mansour and former MP Mostafa Bakry and Nasserist Adel Hammouda are present in the assembly, which is taking place in Egypt’s High Judiciary Court.

The quartet is known for being staunch opponents of the influential Islamist group.

Signalling their growing contempt, the usually conservative judges chanted “the people demand the downfall of the regime”.

Former general prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, who was sacked following Morsi’s decree, spoke at length, saying he would legally challenge the president’s decision to relieve him of his duties.

Mahmoud attempted to rebutt accusations that his office was slow or ineffective in prosecuting those who killed unarmed protesters after the January 25 uprising by pointing fingers at the ministry of interior for not referring any suspects to his office.

Mahmoud slammed the ministry of interior saying that it failed to provide the prosecutors with evidence or suspects in the violent attacks against the anti-SCAF protesters in 2011.

"The ministry of interior has never referred any suspects to the office of the prosecutor general in the Two Saints church bombing in January 2010, Maspero massacre October 2011, Mohamed Mahoumd clashes in November 2011 and the cabinet clashes December  2011." 

Head of the lawyers’ syndicate Sameh Ashour also said he fully endorses the judges in their bid to challenge Morsi.

“The country’s fate is in your hands now, if you decided to strike, we will strike. If you decided to stage a sit-in, we will join you,” he said.

The newly-announced constitutional declaration says that the president's decisions cannot be overturned by any judicial authority – putting him out of judicial reach.

The council urged the president to drop the decree to preserve judicial independence.

Twenty members of the independent Judiciary Movement also issued a statement on Saturday rejecting the constitutional declaration.

The independent Judiciary Movement is a group of judges that demanded reform and judiciary independence in 2005 following massive vote-rigging in the presidential elections under ousted president Mubarak's rule.

"This is an unjustified apostasy that hinders the independence of judiciary, freedoms and rights," reads the statement referring to Morsi's constitutional declaration.

Judges warn that although within Morsi's bundle of decisions, he did concede some of the people's demands, it nevertheless jeopardised democracy and freedoms.

"Calling for re-trials and investigations the way it was done through the constitutional decree undermines the judiciary's independence and guarantees, which will lead to the devaluation of court verdicts," the independent Judiciary Movement argues.

Meanwhile, outside the High Court, hundreds of protesters who marched to protest against president Mohamed Morsi's decree were attacked by unknown assailants in the late afternoon hours.

The liberal Constitution Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the liberal Wafd Party came to the court to voice support to judges.

Ahram Online reporters at the scene said the demonstrators were attacked with fireworks, which stirred panic among them as everyone ran aimlessly to escape violence.

Police dispersed protesters using tear gas canisters.

Judges For Egypt supports Morsi

However not all Judges opposed the president's move.

The reform judges caucus"Judges for Egypt" declared on Saturday their support for President Mohamed Morsi's newly issued constitutional declaration.

Judges for Egypt held a meeting in opposition to the general assembly called for by the Judges' Club.

The group's official spokesperson Walid Sharaby stated to Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr news channel that the Judges for Egypt meeting was attended by hundreds of their members.

Sharaby said that their meeting, like that of the Judges Club, could have been attended by political figures, especially from the Freedom and Justice Party, the Nour Party in addition to others, but said the judges wished to remain politically neutral.

"We are honoured that our meeting [to support the constitutional declaration] was not attended by members of the High Constitutional Court (HCC). We know of their orientation; they only seek to restore the old Mubarak regime," the spokesperson stated to Al-Jazeera.

The HCC has frequently accused the Morsi appointed Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki and the Islamist-led Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting Egypt's new constitution of attempting to infringe upon its authorities.

Sharaby also charged the Judges Club had no right to issue decisions as its extraordinary assembly was not attended by all of its members. He also attacked the speech given at the assembly by the Head of Judges Club Ahmed El-Zend, a fierce Morsi critic, saying it was "politicised".





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Sharif Shehata
25-11-2012 11:45pm
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The speech
you don't published my comment. WHY ???????????? I am British but My blood is Egyptian. Have a nice day.
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Fritz
25-11-2012 05:01pm
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Has there been a revolution or not?
Anyway, the body, that writes the constitution, must be free. Insofar Mursi is perfectly right. Theoretical dangers should be discussed when they get practical that nobody should expect. Politics are not a book.
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Faarax Caydiid
25-11-2012 12:37pm
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SILENCE THE OPPORTUNISTIC AND SECTARIAN GROUPS
the Egyptian people can not indefinitely protest about anything and nothing when it comes to matters that are a backbone to the development and progress of their country, and there are times when we must sit back and allow through the course of time to deliver results that we all aspire to see. certainly opportunistic groups taking advantage of the situation for the sake of bribes and money distributed cannot be taken and mistaken for as the legitimate authority capable of replacing an elected president with a mandate for change. the cliques of thieves chanting in front of the media are a common problematic phenomena these days in many places of the world, largely driven by the so called "social media" outlets as a means to cause havoc and unrest. but Egyptians must learn to accept democracy is not a tangible object that can be purchased or imported from the outside, indeed Egyptians already possess great qualities that many in the west lack - namely and largely EGALITARIANISM, and the
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A democrat
25-11-2012 01:31am
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Delusional attitude
A garbage collectors' strike makes a difference to everyone, for obvious reasons; a judges' strike does not, at least not in the short run. If they believe they can make Morsi drop his decree by striking, they are delusional. They are not even unified; it will be a shoot in the foot. What if Morsi stops paying their wages? How long would the strike last then?
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Munawaar
25-11-2012 01:23am
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Ahram biased
From this or article or the report it shows they are interested in giving the details of the 'ramnant of the mubarak'side which was attended by politicians rather than the 'judges for egypt' whaich has distanced from allowing any politicians. Is Ahram online doing the dirty work of 'zionist-american' ? I will not be surprised if there are people on zinist payroll !
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Nikos Retsos
25-11-2012 01:18am
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Egypt's judges divided over Morsi's controversial decrees
There should not be any doubt that judges who oppose Mr. Morsi are lackeys for the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak. More on my blog: MOHAMED MORSI: THE U.S.’S NEW “HUGO CHAVEZ” SPECTER IN MIDDLE EAST?(http://my.telegraph.co.uk/retsos_nikos/nikos_retsos/16011570/mohamed-morsi-the-new-hugo-chavez-in-middle-east/)
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Ahmed
25-11-2012 12:57am
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El-Zend et al.
The justice system is damaged by personality like El-Zend. The attendees for that gathering are mostly people under the umbrella of investigation. This may be their last gathering on a live TV. May Allah save Egypt from corruptions and its agents.
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Sharif Shehata
25-11-2012 12:10am
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The speech
Where were you, when President Mubarak Regime and his son's corrupt Egypt and Egyptians. If President Mohamed Morsi wants controlling everything. So this will be easy to judge one better than to judge a million. I really want to say, All Mubarak Regime, YOU are so lucky to be FREE. Mr president Mohamed Morsi good work and right decision. Egypt and Egyptians must go to Tahrir Square when we don't have Food,Jobs and home. We are destroying our a lovely Egypt. We are destroying our future. as I believe in Freedom and justice. I believe There are invisible hands trying to destroy our society and our Economy. God bless Egypt.
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