Prosecutor general dismisses Morsi maneuver as beyond president authority

Nada Hussein Rashwan, Friday 12 Oct 2012

Prosecutor-general, Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, refuses ambassadorial post by Egypt's President Morsi, as Judicial Club gathers against Morsi

Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud
Prosecutor general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Prosecutor-general aide Ahmed Fadel announced Friday that Prosecutor General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud will continue his post  as of Saturday.

Fadel confirmed an earlier statement made by Mahmoud Thursday, where he denied his resignation to accept a position as Egypt's ambassador in the Vatican offered by President Mohamed Morsi.

Fadel reiterated that Morsi's offer was a promotion not a dismissal, but Mahmoud turned it down and will continue in his office.

Earlier on Thursday evening, Egypt's President Morsi dismissed Mahmoud from the post he held since 2006 and appointed him as the Ambassador to the Vatican.

However, according to the Egyptian legal system the president does not have the power to dismiss the prosecutor general from office, but the latter has the right to ask to be relieved of his duties.

Media Officer of the Judges Club, Mohamed Abdel-Hadi, said judges and members of the prosecution entity will gather Saturday in front of the prosecutor general's office to support his decision not to leave.

Prosecutor General Mahmoud, issued a statement Thursday night denying claims that he resigned from his post, adding that he will remain in his current position until the end of his mandate in accordance with the judiciary law.

Abdel-Hadi also announced the Judges Club will hold an emergency session Sunday evening to discuss their escalation after the development. He also stressed their refusal of Morsi's decision to remove Mahmoud on grounds of infringement of the judicial authority, which prohibits the dismissal of the prosecutor general.

The dismissal of Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud has been one of the major demands of pro-revolution groups since the ousting of former president Mubarak in February 2011.

"I advise you [Mahmoud] to accept the new position with dignity. Think thoroughly, your other options are difficult," Essam El-Erian, Deputy Head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, said via Twitter.

El-Erian's statement refers to possible legal investigation with Mahmoud if he does not accept the maneuver. There have been calls by some pro-revolution, rights lawyers and organizations to hold the prosecutor-general accountable for failing to deliver adequate investigation material in lawsuits related to Mubarak regime figures after the uprising in February last year.

But Tahani El-Gebali, Deputy of the Constitutional Court Judge, to said while speaking to Ahram's Arabic news portal: "No one can dismiss a judge unless he committed violations, such as receiving bribery or manipulating the law.

"Dismissal of a judge is not an accurate term if the judge was assigned to another position. If he accepts the new position it automatically means he resigned, not that he was dismissed. If he does not resign, as is the case with the prosecutor-general, he has the legal right to stay in his position and no one can force him to leave."

In contrast to Mohamed Abdel-Hadi, rights lawyer Gamal Eid explains Morsi's move is not considered infringement.

"He made an offer to Mahmoud that signifies a message. If he accepts his ambassador position, he gets a dignified exit. Now that [Mahmoud] rejected the offer, he does get to remain in office," he told Ahram Online.

"Removing the prosecutor-general who was appointed by Mubarak has been a longstanding popular demand since the uprising, and it has become increasingly pressing with every acquittal granted to Mubarak-regime figures held for killing protesters."

Ex-MP and lawyer Essam Sultan insists that Mahmoud has accepted his post as ambassador in the Vatican, against what Mahmoud announced Thursday night. Sultan claims there were eyewitnesses present during his acceptance of the post, which would automatically relieve him from duty without the need of a written resignation.

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's move follows the outbreak of public anger over the acquittal by Cairo Criminal Court on Wednesday of prominent Mubarak-era officials 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.

Short link: