Damietta lawyers have suspended work in Al-Zarqa court in response to an alleged police assault on two lawyers.
The decision comes after female lawyer Reham Mousa was allegedly assaulted Monday night by a police officer, who refused to grant her access to Al-Zarqa court.
“She was accompanying one of her clients,” Damietta lawyer Mohamed Howeidy said. “The officer prevented her amid verbal assault. When she persisted, he slapped her face and pulled her hair as he dragged her away.”
Mousa informed her colleagues Tuesday morning of the alleged assault. Lawyer Ramadan Azzam accompanied her to the court to confront the officer. However Azzam was also assaulted, Howeidy claimed.
The Damietta lawyers’ syndicate protested the incident, claiming that when a number of lawyers met with the deputy security directorate of Damietta, they were assaulted by police personnel who also cursed the interior minister and the security directorate in front of his deputy. The syndicate added in a statement that the entire security leadership in Damietta failed to deter this act of aggression for fear of the police’s reaction, reported state-owned Al-Ahram.
“The head of the general lawyers syndicate banned lawyers from entering Damietta police stations on Wednesday and Thursday,” Howeidy said, adding that Ashour’s decision also included banning police and prosecution personnel from entering Al-Zarqa court, as well as suspending work in the court on Wednesday and Thursday.
“Already one Damietta lawyer was banned by the police from entering Al-Zarqa police station Wednesday morning in response to the ban on police personnel entering Al-Zarqa court by lawyers striking there,” Howeidy said.
The local lawyers’ syndicate council in Damietta met on Wednesday to discuss the crisis, where they agreed to refer the case to Damietta’s attorney general and the head of the court for further investigation, Howeidy stated.
Howeidy also added that the general lawyers’ syndicate is meeting on Thursday in order to reach a decision regarding the crisis.
“Already, several local lawyers’ syndicates have announced their solidarity with the Damietta lawyers’ syndicate’s strike,” Howeidy said, citing the Al-Mansoura and Port Said lawyers’ syndicates as two syndicates taking part in the strike.
The latest incident is just the latest in a string of assault complaints against police. Minister of Justice, Ahmed Mekki, mandated on Monday three appeals judges from the Cairo Al-Mansoura and Qena appeals courts to investigate four complaints of police abuse.
One of those citizens is a lawyer for and director of the Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA) Haggag Nael who was allegedly assaulted by police over a month ago, when he was called in to the Nasr City police department by one of his clients, then forcefully detained for two hours after being charged with assault. Nael said he was released only when forced to sign a reconciliation agreement with the “thugs” who had attacked his client.
The security director of Damietta was unavailable for comment.