Former head of the Central Auditing Organisation (CAO) Hisham Geneina said Tuesday that appealing against the presidential decision to dismiss him from his post was not aimed at having him restored, but rather at obtaining an admission from the court that the decision violated the law and the Constitution, he told reporters outside the State Council.
“With all due respect to the president and his decision, we are in a legal dispute here,” Geneina said. “Dismissing the heads of regulatory bodies follows specific legal requirements, aimed at protecting the post and the message it carries, not the person.”
This followed the Administrative Court’s decision to postpone Geneina’s case, where he appealed against his dismissal, to 20 December. Although the court was expected to issue its verdict Tuesday, the bench will be changed.
The court also decided Tuesday that there will be a new hearing of pleadings in the case in the upcoming session. Geneina is appealing against a presidential decision to dismiss him from his post on 28 March 2016.
“As men of law, we appreciate the decision as it respects procedures that guarantee a fair trial. New judges will be re-examining documents and hearing our arguments. We will be there, ready,” Geneina said.
Tuesday’s court session, held at the State Council, witnessed restrictions on reporters who were banned from photographing or obtaining press statements from the attendees. Photojournalists were also banned from attending the session.
However, Daily News Egypt obtained a few statements from Geneina and his defence lawyer ahead of the verdict inside court, and then after the court’s decision. “I cannot speculate on something I don’t have control over,” Geneina stated when asked about his expectations.
“I hope that the judiciary will uphold their defence of law enforcement and constitutional principles,” he said.
Geneina’s appeal includes an argument about the claimed unconstitutionality of the law on regulatory bodies allowing the president to dismiss the heads of those bodies, who are hypothetically independent from the interference of the executive power.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s decision against Geneina came after the latter had come under fire over press statements in which he claimed that the amount of corruption in Egypt had exceeded EGP 600bn.
In an interview published by Al-Youm Al-Sabea newspaper on 23 December 2015, Geneina said: “It is difficult to define the cost of corruption within Egyptian institutions. Yet, according to monitoring reports supervised by CAO members, we could say that corruption exceeded EGP 600bn in 2015.”
As a result, Geneina lost his position and was put on trial over charges of spreading false information that jeopardises public order. On 28 July, he was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of EGP 20,000.
When asked outside the court whether he would reveal any corruption cases, Geneina said that the issue concerns the parliament and its obligations towards the public. “It is their task to inspect and reveal what came in the CAO reports,” Geneina said.
In the meantime, defence lawyer Ali Taha told Daily News Egypt that Geneina’s appeal against Al-Sisi’s decision to remove him takes into consideration the unconstitutionality of the heads of regulatory bodies decree.
The decree was passed by Al-Sisi in July 2015. Taha found a loophole in the time gap between the decree and the actual removal of Geneina.
“The Constitution entitled the president to issue decrees which have the force of law in the absence of the parliament, due to urgency and necessity. But Geneina was dismissed several months later which questions this urgent need to have that decree issued by the executive authority without a parliament,” Taha explained.
Taha also made a point regarding legal procedures, where specific laws for each institution have priority over general laws; the CAO’s regulatory role, which put in place more procedures to deal with its president than the one that was applied, should have been the legal basis of the decision.
As for Geneina, he asserted that “getting things back on track is not an attempt for me to return to the presidency of the organisation, but an admission that a legal and constitutional violation occurred against the organisation and its leaders. We aim to respect the Constitution and the law, because people who give up their constitutional and legal rights will encourage more violations of their rights.”