CAIRO: Lawyers in Gharbeya governorate may hold an open strike if the head of the Judges’ Club opens an investigation into an incident where hundreds of lawyers held the Attorney General in his office, lawyer Mohamed Suliman said Sunday.
“Counselor Ahmed El-Zend threatened to open an investigation as a means of exerting pressure on lawyers [to stop them from] escalating the [current] crisis [between them on the one hand and judges and prosecutors on the other],” Suliman told Daily News Egypt.
Last month, hundreds of lawyers reportedly stormed the office of Ehab Esmat, the Attorney General in Tanta city, the capital of Gharbeya, holding him inside for a few hours and beating up his office manager.
The lawyers’ move was a reaction to a verdict handed down against two colleagues for attacking the local prosecutor.
Since then no investigation was conducted into the incident, while Esmat promised to leave it on the shelf.
“I haven’t heard of what El-Zend said. But the syndicate has opened an investigation into these acts committed by some irresponsible lawyers [to take the necessary measures against those proven guilty],” board member of the Lawyers’ Syndicate Mohamed Abdel-Ghaffar told Daily News Egypt.
Suliman admitted that the incident took place; yet he argued that the lawyers were reacting to an unfair ruling against their colleagues.
“[More than 20 lawyers] are expected to be handed down verdicts in absentia if El-Zend carries out his threat,” Suliman added.
Lawyers will hold a public conference in Gharbeya Thursday to discuss the next step before the hearing of the retrial of Ehab Saey El-Din and Moustafa Fatouh on July 18.
Saey El-Din and Fatouh were found guilty of assaulting and offending Basem Abu El-Rous, the local prosecutor in Tanta.
The two lawyers had claimed earlier that they were insulted and attacked by the prosecutor first. But during a rushed one-day trial, they were sentenced to five years in prison, which caused outrage among lawyers.
In response to the verdict, thousands of lawyers held strikes and sit-ins for several days nationwide, which further heighted the tension between the two sides.
The outraged lawyers’ stance was supported by syndicate chairman Hamdy Khalifa and the syndicate board.
A full nationwide strike was instated for days earlier last month during which lawyers were not allowed to make pleas at any criminal court. However, the syndicate changed it to a five-hour strike every day.
Several reconciliation attempts were made to contain the crisis. Yet no compromise has been reached so far.
During an urgent board meeting on Friday, the syndicate called on Minister of Justice Mamdouh Marie to form a high committee consisting of representatives from the Supreme Judicial Council, the syndicate board, the State Council, the Public Prosecution, the Administrative Prosecution and the State Lawsuits Authority to meet at least every two months.
“The syndicate board recommended that the committee’s role will be to establish the foundation of the relationship between lawyers and judges and prosecutors and to avoid any possible problems [between the two sides] by rendering binding decisions,” Abdel-Ghaffar explained.
Meanwhile, the attorney general opened an investigation into the complaint against Abu El-Rous filed by Fatouh and Saey El-Din.
A number of witnesses gave their testimonies but no further details were available at press time.