Ruling on judges vs lawyers case postponed

The misdemeanor appeals court in Tanta yesterday postponed until 5 September the delivery of a verdict in the appeal hearing of the two lawyers accused of assaulting a chief prosecutor. Mustafa Fattouh and Ihab Saei Eddin will remain behind bars until a final decision is issued.

During a one-hour session yesterday judges considered an appeal by the detained lawyers against a previous court ruling that sentenced them to a five-year term. They are charged with assaulting Bassem Abul Rous, a police prosecutor at Tanta’s second police department.

Around 200 lawyers staged a protest in front of the court building demanding the release of their colleagues and calling for Abul Rous to be put on trial. The number of protesters from other provinces was remarkably low compared with past court sessions.

More than 30 armoured security vehicles surrounded the area. Roads leading to the court building were blocked and lawyers were denied entry to the courtroom for fear of riots.

The judges heard a pleading by Hamdi Khalifa, head of the Lawyers Syndicate, who said on his way out of the session that he had challenged Article 185 of the penal code upon which the prison sentence was based. He argued that the legal procedures taken by the Tanta court which issued the initial ruling were faulty from the beginning. An example of this was the court’s failure to refer the case to the public prosecutor, since the prosecution services were a genuine party to the conflict, according to Khalifa, who added that the court should have investigated the report filed by the lawyers and should have listened to their account.

Khalifa noted that witnesses who provided testimonies in the case did not support the prosecution’s report, and that they had enough time to amend their testimonies.

Khalifa demanded that the pleading petition be referred again to the prosecution for further investigation, and called on the court to halt proceedings until a decision has been taken concerning the report filed by the two lawyers against the police prosecutor, since further investigations might unearth new findings. Khalifa asked for the defendants to be acquitted, citing the absence of the other parties to the case at the session.

Fattouh, one of the defendants, said he had no information about an apology that was submitted by Mortada Mansour, an attorney, to the public prosecutor. He said Mansour had visited him in Damanhour prison at a late hour and gave him a version of the apology which was different to the one he published. He said Mansour had told him he will be released as soon as possible, but nothing happened. Fattouh said he believes the syndicate has abandoned them as it has not offered them any help.

The syndicate’s branch in Tanta distributed CDs containing the witnesses’ accounts in which they deny that the lawyers assaulted the police prosecutor.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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