Spat with presidency 'over,' says Egypt's prosecutor-general

Ahram Online, Sunday 14 Oct 2012

At urgent meeting of Egyptian Judges Club, Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud says recent showdown between presidency and judiciary has ended 'without serious consequences'

Egyptian Prosecutor General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud speaks to hundreds of supporters, judges, lawyers and media, not shown, in a downtown courthouse defying a presidential decision to remove him from his post, saying this infringes on the judiciary's independence, in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, (Photo: AP).

Egyptian Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud on Sunday stated that the recent drama over President Mohamed Morsi's attempt to reassign him to a diplomatic post was "over."

At an emergency meeting of Egypt's Judges Club, Mahmoud asserted that Morsi had expressed his "highest respect" for the Egyptian judiciary and the independence thereof.

"The crisis has ended and there have been no serious consequences," Mahmoud said before leaving the meeting early, joking that he had "serious Vatican work" to attend to.

On Thursday, Morsi announced Mahmoud's appointment as Egypt's new ambassador to the Vatican, in a move intended to remove the Mubarak-era prosecutor-general from his pivotal judicial post. According to the law, however, the presidency lacks the authority to dismiss the prosecutor-general.

At Sunday's meeting, Judges Club President Ahmed El-Zend described Mahmoud's refusal to leave his post as a "historic victory" for the Egyptian judiciary, asserting that "Egypt had spoken" to keep Mahmoud on as prosecutor-general. El-Zend went on to thank the Egyptian media for its role in publicising the issue, slamming recent accusations that the media was serving the agenda of a subversive "third party."

Last week, a Cairo criminal court acquitted senior Mubarak-era officials of charges that they had orchestrated the infamous 'Battle of the Camel' attacks on anti-regime protesters at the height of last year's Tahrir Square uprising.

The acquittals were followed by an attempt by Morsi to dismiss Mahmoud from his post – a move that ultimately failed given the latter's refusal to give up his position.

Mahmoud's removal had been one of the demands voiced by several post-revolution political groups calling for a purge of the country's judicial system.

The episode has prompted a heated debate about the independence of Egypt's judiciary.

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