CAIRO: A local human rights group on Saturday called on President Hosni Mubarak to reverse a decision to strip four judges of their immunity ahead of interrogation by state security prosecutors.
The four face questioning after another judge filed a complaint over their allegations that fellow jurists were involved in rigging last year s parliamentary vote. The four have also been vocal in their criticism of government interference in judiciary demands for independence.
The Egyptian Organization for Human (EOHR) rights expresses its great worry about the summoning (of the judges) by the prosecutor-general to interrogate them about the complaint lodged against them, the group said in a statement. The concept that the general prosecution, especially the state security prosecution, carries out the investigations casts doubt on their impartiality.
EOHR defended the judges for voicing their opinions about the vote in media interviews, saying that they were practicing their right to freedom of opinion.
The group said Mubarak should cancel the decision of stripping the judges of their immunity and what has resulted from it.
Ahmed Mekky, one of the judges, told the leading daily Al-Ahram in comments published Saturday that the planned interrogation by prosecutors was unprecedented.
This is a complaint about expressing an opinion, not about slandering, he said. We demand that those involved in the rigging be held accountable and that there be no covering up for any deviant among our ranks.
Last year s election was marred by government supporters intimidating and blocking voters outside stations as well as allegations of ballot stuffing in the counting process.
Judges have demanded the right to supervise what goes on outside and inside the polling stations.
The latest episode with the judges has been in the making for nearly a year, with hundreds of liberal judges calling for reform of the Egyptian legal system and for a legislation that would make the judiciary completely independent of government control.
The last major confrontation between the Egyptian government and the judiciary was in 1969, the so-called slaughter of the judiciary, when President Gamal Abdel Nasser fired more than 200 rebellious judges. AP