Lawyers have launched a strike on Sunday in a Suez courthouse in response to an alleged police assault on a lawyer.
“It all began when a lawyer was allegedly assaulted Saturday afternoon by a police officer, who refused to grant him access to the court while he accompanying one of his clients,” said Ahmed El-Kelany, a lawyer based in Suez. It is unclear why the police officer did not want the lawyer to enter the courthouse.
After the assault took place, a group of lawyers gathered to protest the incident. Afterwards, El-Kelany added, a police general ordered the Central Security Forces to disperse the protesting lawyers.
Following the incident, the syndicate’s general assembly held an emergency session Sunday, demanding police personnel leave the court and that army units take their place to secure the vicinity.
The syndicate released a statement saying: “Police personnel are considered adversaries of lawyers and we demand that they abandon the perimeter of the court”.
A meeting took place between a delegation from the syndicate and security officials, which ended in the assaulted lawyers refusing to compromise and threatening to escalate, El-Kelany said.
As of Sunday, the armed forces have taken over responsibility for securing the court.
Sameh Ashour, head of the Lawyer’s Syndicate, said Monday that lawyers will continue striking until all their demands are met.
Although one police officer was suspended from his duties, and another two were transferred, Ashour said the lawyers will continue the strike until the prosecution issues a ruling on the matter.
El-Kelany expressed deep concern over the challenges Egyptian lawyers continue to face. “Citizens hire lawyers to guarantee them a fair trial. It is alarming when lawyers are themselves assaulted and banned from accessing the courts,” he said.
The South Cairo Lawyers’ Syndicate condemned the attacks on Sunday, describing them as the strategy of a “police state, where the rights of lawyers are violated”.
A similar incident took place in November last year, when lawyers in Damietta went on strike to protest the assault on a female colleague.
In July 2012, lawyers staged a sit-in outside the Nasr City police station, which resulted in clashes between policemen and lawyers that left 16 people injured on both sides.