Egypt's Morsi will not stand trial for prison escape: Minister

Ahram Online, Monday 24 Jun 2013

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs says president cannot stand trial because it would require approval of lower house of parliament which has been dissolved since June 2012

Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi (Photo: AP)

An investigation into President Mohamed Morsi's escape from prison during the January 25 Revolution will not affect his legal and constitutional status, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hatem Begato has said.

A court in Ismailia on Sunday ordered state prosecutors to investigate the escape by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including Morsi, from Wadi El-Natroun prison during the revolution.

The order comes at a time when the president is under increasing pressure from the opposition, and the army has hinted it could intervene to prevent violence at protests on 30 June.

A president can only be suspended from his post for high treason or committing a crime, Begato argued. The suspension would require a signed request by one third of MPs in the House of Representative (lower house of parliament).

"The request must then be presented to a general session of the lower house and be endorsed by two thirds of MPs," added Bagato, formerly a judge in the High Constitution Court.

Egypt's lower house, then called the People's Assembly, was dissolved by a court order in June 2012 after the law governing its elections was declared invalid.

There is no constitutional alternative to the requirement that the lower house of parliament must give its consent for the president to stand trial, Bagato confirmed.

Therefore, based on Begato's reasoning, the president cannot stand trial until after a new lower house is elected.

Sunday's court ruling also called on Interpol to arrest the leaders of Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah, Palestinian group Hamas and Al-Qaeda in Sinai for their alleged role in planning and executing the escape.

Eleven thousand prisoners escaped and 13 died during the prison break.

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