Slain Egyptian sheikh's widow decries slow justice

Ahram Online , Monday 25 Mar 2013

Widow of Sheikh Emad Effat, who died in 2011 clashes outside Egypt's cabinet building, laments lack of progress regarding her lawsuit demanding interrogation of former military leaders

Emad Effat (Photo: Ahram Online archive)

Nashwa Abdel-Tawab, the widow of Sheikh Emad Effat who died in 2011 clashes outside Egypt's cabinet building, expressed dissatisfaction on Monday with the progress of a lawsuit demanding the questioning of former Egyptian military leaders about their roles in the notorious post-revolution confrontations.

Abdel-Tawab, a journalist at state-run newspaper Al-Ahram Weekly, criticised on Facebook the frequent delays of court proceedings, arguing that the Egyptian people should "move their revolution to the court rooms, where the real change needs to happen."

She asserted: "When we took to the streets, we broke the fear inside us; and when we move now to the [judiciary], we might help reform it from the rigid laws and corruption of the justice system."

The families of four of those who lost their lives in the clashes – Rami El-Sharkawi, Alaa Abdel-Hadi, Ahmed Mansour and Emad Effat – have filed a lawsuit against President Mohamed Morsi in this regard.

They demand that Morsi order the questioning of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, former head of Egypt's Supreme Military Council, and former chief-of-staff General Sami Anan for their alleged responsibility for the clashes that took place during Egypt's post-revolution transitional phase (February 2011 – June 2012).

Morsi sent both Tantawi and Anan into retirement last August. He subsequently honoured both men, granting Tantawi the Nile Collar – Egypt's highest state honour – and Anan the Republic Collar.

In their lawsuit against Morsi, the victims' families also demand that former head of military police Hamdi Badein be questioned about the cabinet clashes, for which 269 individuals – including ten fugitives – have been charged with responsibility.

"The president has the right to question these men about their administration of the country, but instead he honoured them and secured their exit," Abdel-Tawab wrote.

On 19 March, trial proceedings were postponed to 18 June, obliging Egypt's State Litigation Authority to look into the case and examine Morsi's fact-finding committee report – submitted last January – on the post-revolution clashes.

"The report could include information implicating military leaders, but the president and prosecutor-general refuse to disclose it to the public," Abdel-Tawab wrote.

"We might win our case or lose it," she added. "But at least we can benefit by raising public awareness about the issue."

Abdel-Tawab also criticised the 'Revolution Prosecution,' a special body drawn up by Egypt's prosecution-general last January to investigate violence against protesters.

"It [the Revolution Prosecution] did not take any action; it did not even change the investigating judges in the various cases," she wrote. "Where is the political will for positive change?"

At least 16 people were killed and about 900 injured in December 2011 in clashes, which followed a security crackdown on a sit-in outside Egypt's cabinet building to protest Kamal El-Ganzouri's appointment as prime minister.

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