Lawyers mull ‘unprecedented’ escalation in brawl with judiciary

The General Lawyers Syndicate is expected to hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday following rising tension over the continued detention of two lawyers convicted of assaulting Tanta’s chief prosecutor. The Tanta Appeals Court on Sunday ordered that the lawyers, Ehab Sai el-Din and Mustafa Futuh, remain incarcerated until their appeal–which has been delayed to 4 July–is decided.

Regional syndicate councils will be represented at the emergency meeting, which will be held at the Lawyers’ Club in Maadi. It is expected that the syndicate will announce the adoption of escalatory measures in its confrontation with Egypt’s judiciary, including resuming a lawyers’ strike and organizing new protests in Cairo and the provinces.

The syndicate had declared a nationwide strike in the wake of the initial 8 June ruling against Sai el-Din and Futuh, but called it off on Sunday amid expectations that the lawyers would be released by the Tanta Appeals Court.

Lawyers Syndicate Chairman Hamdi el-Khalifa told Al-Masry Al-Youm that, in addition to resuming the strike and staging new protests, the syndicate would take “unprecedented” steps to express its disappointment with the court’s decision. He also declared that an emergency general assembly session would be announced at tomorrow’s meeting.

El-Khalifa described the Tanta court’s decision to keep the two lawyers behind bars as “a shock.” The syndicate chairman noted that, “according to everything we were hearing, we expected the case to be postponed and the defendants to be freed.”

He added: “Our demands for a new investigation and a reopening of the case–without the flaws that marred the first one–were met. However, the court did not respond to our request that the defendants be released.”

“No matter how difficult the challenges we face, we will not give up,” he added.

Addressing lawyers, el-Khalifa noted, “We are facing a historical test in which we must unite around a single goal. The syndicate will continue defending its members and the legal profession.”

El-Khalifa went on to say that the crisis had revealed an “unprecedented level of unity” among Egypt’s lawyers. He emphasized that the issue transcended the personalities involved and touched on the “fate of the syndicate itself.”

Meanwhile, anger prevailed among lawyers outside the capital, with lawyers from several governorates–including Gharbiya, Beni Sueif, Kafr el-Sheikh, Fayoum, Damietta, Port Said, Daqahliya, Mounifiya, Qena and Minya–resuming their strikes. Lawyers in a number of governorates also reiterated their refusal to pay mandatory judicial fees.

In the Gharbiya Governorate, which includes Tanta, lawyers demanded that the Lawyer’s Syndicate take a decisive stand aimed at safeguarding the dignity of the legal profession. They denounced the conduct of the Tanta Misdemeanors Court, where Sai el-Din and Futuh were sentenced to five years in prison at their initial trial on 8 June. They were particularly critical of the presiding judge’s decision to leave the courtroom and allow the court secretary to announce the verdict against the two defendants.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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