CAIRO: Lawyers have ended their sit-in at the Tanta Courts Complex until further notice from the syndicate board, lawyer Mohamed Suliman told Daily News Egypt Monday.
Dozens of lawyers from all over Egypt, especially Tanta city, organized a sit-in Saturday, one day prior to the second appeal hearing of two lawyers charged with attacking the city’s local prosecutor, calling for the release of their colleagues on remand.
“We also object to the fact that no legal action has yet been taken against the prosecutor, [though the two lawyers had earlier filed a complaint against him],” added Suliman, who is also a member in the strike committee in Gharbeya governorate.
According to syndicate board member Mohamed Abdel-Rahman, a board meeting will be held within a few days to decide the next step, “whether to continue the strike … or to take another measure.”
Last month, lawyers Ehab Saey El-Din and Moustafa Fatouh were sentenced to five years in prison for assaulting and offending Basem Abu El-Rous, the local prosecutor in Tanta, the capital of Gharbeya. The verdict was appealed.
The two lawyers had claimed earlier that they were insulted and attacked by the prosecutor first.
On Sunday’s hearing, the court ordered that they remain in custody, which caused fury among lawyers.
The hearing lasted for about six hours during which time five out of 14 defense witnesses gave their testimonies; all of them are policemen and employees at the prosecution office.
The Gharbeya police detective testified that he was not assigned to conduct any investigation ahead of the verdict.
“He [seemed to be] a well-trained witness … Everybody knows how policemen are [taught] to testify [at trials],” argued Abdel-Rahman, who is also a member of the defense team.
“An investigation might have been conducted by another [source though],” he said.
All witnesses confirmed that the two lawyers attacked Abu El-Rous.
Only the 20-lawyer defense team, led by syndicate chairman Hamdy Khalifa, was allowed to attend the hearing.
Lawyers supporting Saey El-Din and Fatouh were denied entry into the courtroom, which resulted in clashes between them and police forces.
Reporters were also prohibited from covering the hearing from inside the courtroom.
On Saturday, it was announced that Saey El-Din and Fatouh withdrew their complaint against Abu El Rous, which caused further outrage among the lawyers.
The Gharbeya syndicate branch reacted by calling for suspending the membership of both of them.
However, the two lawyers did not comment on the situation during Sunday’s hearing.
“The lawyer that Saey El-Din and Fatouh used to work for was the one who made the move on their behalf without getting back to the syndicate or the defense team first,” Abdel-Rahman said.
“The syndicate board held a meeting [before the hearing] and decided to [ignore] this act and maintain the case,” Abdel-Rahman added.
Since June, thousands of lawyers participated in strikes and sit-ins nationwide in response to the imprisonment of Saey El-Din and Fatouh, which further heightened the tension between lawyers on the one hand and judges and prosecutors on the other.
The outraged lawyers’ stance was supported by Khalifa and the syndicate board.
“Not only does this case concern [the two defendants], but it has to do with the dignity of the Bar Association … and all Egyptian lawyers as well,” Abdel-Rahman said.
Several attempts at reconciliation were made since then, with no concrete results reached so far.
Lawyers, meanwhile, maintained the full strike instated across Egypt. They are currently not allowed to make pleas at any criminal court. Any violation of the strike leads to a six-month suspension from the syndicate, during which time courts do not recognize the suspended lawyer.
The coming board meeting is also expected to decide whether to continue or to end the strike.
The lawyers are expected to make their pleas during the next appeal session due to be held on July 18.