Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi on Thursday evening removed Mubarak-era Prosecutor General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud from the post he has held since 2006.
Morsi appointed Mahmoud ambassador to the Vatican.
The dismissal of Abdel-Meguid has been one of the major demands of pro-revolution forces since the ousting of former president Mubarak in February 2011.
Anger at the outgoing prosecutor general has steadily increased over the past two years with the failure of state prosecutors to win any major case against police officers charged with killing unarmed protesters during the 2011 uprising and afterwards.
The president doesn't have the power under the Egyptian legal system to dismiss the prosecutor general from office but the latter has the right to ask to be relieved from his duties.
Speaking to reporters minutes after the president issued his decision, Ahmed Abdel-Ati, director of the president's office, refused answer questions on whether the president has the power to dismiss prosecutor generals or not, maintaining only that Morsi appointed Mahmoud envoy to the Vatican.
The president's move follows the outbreak of public anger over the acquittal by Cairo Criminal Court on Wednesday of prominent Mubarak-era officials and personalities charged with orchestrating the famous Battle of the Camel attack on Tahrir.
Twenty-one protesters were killed and hundreds injured during the Battle of the Camel attack, when plain-clothed assailants, some on horse and camelback, violently attacked a sit-in on the flashpoint square in February 2011.
Thousands of protesters mobilised by various leftist and liberal parties and movements were set to head to the iconic square on Friday to demand Morsi sack Mahmoud as well as pressure Morsi to fulfill other outstanding democratic and social justice grievances.
The protests had been called last Saturday but gained momentum after the Wednesday full aquittal verdict.
In a last minute change of heart, the Muslim Brotherhood, where Morsi hails from, which had not endorsed the Friday mobilisation decided to also go to Tahrir but limit their members to calls for justice in the Battle of Camel case.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Muslim Brotherhood demanded that the general prosecutor either present incriminating evidence against the perpetrators of the attack or resign.
The Freedom and Justice Party - the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm - quoted on its official facebook page Fouad Gadallah, the president's legal advisor, saying that the president didn't sack or dismiss Mahmoud, but merely reappointed him "to serve the country."
Senior officials in the Hosni Mubarak regime were among those exonerated by the court, including former minister of information and chairman of the Shura Council Safwat El-Sherif, MP of Mubarak's now-defunct National Democratic Party Mohamed Abul-Enein and former parliament speaker Fathi Sorour. The ex-minister of labour power Aisha Abdel-Hadi was also in the dock.
More details soon...