Constitutional Court head slams Morsi's statement to foreign media

Ahram Online, Monday 17 Dec 2012

Senior judge Maher El-Beheiry condemns President Morsi's recent communique which insinuates that High Constitutional Court is 'anti-revolutionary force' due to 'signals it would dissolve Constituent Assembly'

Riot police form a cordon as several thousand supporters of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi surround the Supreme Constitutional Court on Sunday to prevent the judges from entering and ruling on the legitimacy of the nation's Islamist-dominated constituent assembly, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. (Photo: AP)

Head of the High Constitutional Court (HCC), judge Maher El-Beheiry criticised Monday the presidential office's latest press statement to the foreign media, which suggested the court was conspiring against President Mohamed Morsi.

"The presidency's statement revealed an insistence on continuing to insult the court. There appears to be a systematic plan to embroil the court in the country's heated political struggle," said El-Beheiry, reading the HCC statement on Monday.

Morsi's statement, which was written in English and released on 13 December by the office of the president's foreign relations assistant, said that "anti-revolutionary forces" were escalating their campaign to overturn the gains of the revolution.

This included lack of movement from the prosecutor-general, the statement read, as "almost all individuals charged with crimes during the revolution were discharged," in addition to "signals that the HCC would dissolve the Constituent Assembly."

"The latter consideration was more serious… the president moved to protect the Constituent Assembly," the statement continued, explaining that this is why president released the 22 November Constitutional Declaration, as it "was aimed primarily at doing this by extending the life of the [Constituent Assembly] in order to facilitate consensus and by immunising these decisions from intervention by the [High Constitutional Court]."

"Why did the president refer to foreign media instead of internal prosecution authorities upon finding out about the constitutional court's so-called conspiracy, unless he is only trying to tarnish the court's image internationally by circulating false claims to delegitimise its verdicts?" El-Beheiry asked in his Monday statement.

The High Constitutional Court that is being accused of conspiring against the revolution, El-Beheiry said, is the same entity that for the past two years has "upheld and based its verdicts on the 30 March Constitutional Declaration which was approved by popular referendum."

However, last year's 19 March referendum was on nine article amendments to Egypt's now-defunct 1971 Constitution, not the Constitutional Declaration, which was authored and issued by the then-ruling military council without referendum just over a week later.

On Sunday, El-Beheiry was prevented from entering the HCC premises by hundreds of Islamist protesters gathered outside the court building. The protesters have been staging a sit-in since 2 December, the date sent for the court ruling on the constitutionality of the Constituent Assembly. 

It was widely expected that the court would rule the body tasked with drafting Egypt's national charter unconstitutional.

The demonstrations by Islamists surrounding the court led HCC judges to indefinitely suspend the work of the court.

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