MP proposes law legislating criminal trials of government officials

A draft law that would allow government officials to be tried in court was presented to Parliament speaker Saad al-Katatny on Wednesday by MP Ahmed Saeed, head of the Free Egyptians Party.

In a statement published by state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA), Saeed said that this law is necessary because the 30 March constitutional declaration was free of any such provisions. He said that the law should be passed quickly to cover this legislative gap.

Saeed said the law’s first article stipulates that the vice president, prime minister, cabinet officials and governors and mayors of important cities could all be tried.

The draft law includes 14 articles and stipulates that anyone who commits a crime would be subject to its provisions, even if they no longer held the same position in the government or had retired from government service entirely.

Under the law, an investigative committee consisting of three judges from the Court of Cassation would be formed for a period of two years. The committee would be chosen by the court’s general assembly, and two back-up members would be selected in case one of the original members was unable to serve.

The committee would be charged with examining complaints about government officials that had been submitted to the attorney general. The attorney general would be required to submit any such complaints to the committee within a maximum of two days after receiving them. 

The committee will confidentially discuss the complaint then notify the person the complaint was filed against, the prime minister and the speaker of Parliament. It will also notify the attorney general in writing of the date set for beginning the investigation.

Government officials who are subject to this law would be tried by a special tribunal consisting of seven members — the four most senior deputies of the Court of Cassation, two People’s Assembly members and one Shura Council member.

The law stipulates that anyone convicted of a crime must immediately be removed from their position and must serve their sentence.

The current law regarding the trial of government officials was entered in 1958, while Egypt and Syria were united as the United Arab Republic. Earlier this month, debates erupted in the People’s Assembly over whether the law is still valid, as the two countries ended their union in 1961. The assembly’s legislative committee said that the law is still, in fact, valid.

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