Sunday’s papers: Signs of resolution to lawyer’s crisis, protests over Saeed’s death

Independent dailies Al-Dostour and Al-Shorouq, as well as the government-owned Al-Akhbar lead their Sunday editions with reports that the two lawyers sentenced to five years in prison for assaulting the Tanta district attorney will be released pending their appeal, which will be delayed for some months. According to Al-Shorouq, Lawyers Syndicate Chairman Hamdi Khalifa was promised that the lawyers would be released in exchange for his help in ending the crisis between Egypt’s lawyers and judges. Al-Akhbar notes that Khalifa will call off this Sunday the lawyers’ strike and protests that have continued unabated since lawyers Ehab Saei el-Din and Mostafa Fatuh were sentenced to prison two weeks ago.

While Al-Akhbar stresses that “a peaceful resolution is close at hand” in the crisis, Al-Shorouq highlights disputes between Khalifa and lawyers in his syndicate over his handling of the affair, particularly after issuing a directive on Saturday forbidding lawyers from traveling to Tanta to demonstrate in solidarity with their imprisoned colleagues during their Sunday appeal. The paper quotes one protesting lawyer as saying that the decision “does not apply to us” and that a number of buses would transport lawyers to Tanta in contravention of the syndicate head’s orders.

Interestingly, Al-Shorouq and Al-Ahram carry different accounts of the “assault”, each based on the forensics reports conducted for the original trial. Al-Ahram cites a report, used in the trial, stating that the district attorney suffered from “abrasions to his upper right forearm and two bruises to the right side of his back” during the alleged assault. In contrast, Al-Shorouq quotes a report stating that the defendant el-Din had wounds inflicted “on his left hand, back and neck” by the district attorney and police officers.

Independent dailies Al-Dostour and Al-Shorouq also focus on recent developments in the case of Khaled Saeed, the 28-year-old Egyptian who was allegedly dragged from an internet café in Alexandria and beaten to death by police for posting a video online depicting police corruption. Al-Shorouq runs a story about the video, which his family and supporters claim shows police and intelligence officers dividing the spoils of a drug bust, quoting a source in the Interior Ministry who asserts that the clip only shows the group of officers reviewing their “seizure”. As such, the source argues that the clip should be a “source of pride”, noting however that at least some of the officers were punished for taping the scene on their cell phones in violation of Interior Ministry policy.

Al-Dostour reports that the lawyers representing Saeed’s family have requested to see the criminal records of the witnesses corroborating the Interior Ministry’s account that Said died from choking on a bag of marijuana rather than as a result of blows inflicted by the police. In its coverage of widespread protests in Egypt following Said’s death, the paper states that there are now over 100 groups in support of Said on Facebook, including one with over 250,000 members. The paper also covers the protests staged throughout Egypt on Saturday, including one on the steps of the Journalists Syndicate in which protesters held up banners reading, “If Khaled Saeed was a minister’s son, head’s would roll”.

According to Al-Dostour, the Alexandria branch of the Muslim Brotherhood launched a campaign on Friday to put the director of security forces in Alexandria on trial for Khaled’s death. Al-Shorouq carries an article on Mohamed ElBaradei’s response to the incident in its coverage of a press conference held yesterday by the National Association for Change (NAC). In the conference, ElBaradei announced that he would meet with Saeed’s family and participate in a silent protest over his death next Friday in order to send a message to the regime that “torture will not be tolerated in Egypt, whether now or in the future.”

The paper also focuses on the cynicism expressed during the press conference over the handling of ElBardei’s campaign. It quotes a NAC campaign worker from Beheira as saying, “I don’t feel that you [ElBaradei] are a son of Egypt like us… how can you present yourself as a symbol of change without having the people behind you?”

The state dailies lead with coverage of Mubarak’s opening of a new technological investment zone in New Maadi in Cairo under the name “Cairo Contact Center Park”. According to Al-Ahram, Mubarak emphasized that such centers could help the “ordinary citizen understand and absorb technological terminology and the language of modernity.” Mubarak also inaugurated the internet domain .Masr, written in Arabic. Al-Akhbar notes that Egypt is now the first country in the world with a domain name in Arabic.

The state papers also cover Mubarak’s Saturday morning meeting with George Mitchell, US Special Envoy to the Middle East. Al-Akhbar notes that Mubarak told Mitchell “Israel needs to end the blockade of Gaza” and “open up the territories’ border crossings” during their discussion of how to push forward the indirect negotiations that the US is sponsoring between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Egypt’s newspapers:
Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt
: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size
: Daily, state-run
Rose el-Youssef:
 Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party’s Policies Secretariat
 Daily, privately owned
Daily, privately owned
 Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party
 Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party
 Weekly, privately owned
Sawt el-Umma:
 Weekly, privately owned

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