Egyptian prosecutors flooded the halls of the High Court, just outside the office of the embattled prosecutor general.
The protest aims to step up the pressure on Tala’at Abdallah to leave office.
At the time of print, representatives of the protesting prosecutors were taking part in a meeting with Abdallah.
In the hallway, around 200 prosecutors and their supporters crowded near the door, at one point someone yelled, “we’re not leaving until our demands are met, the first of which is the removal of the prosecutor general.”
Lawyer Malek Adly said that the prosecutors are demanding Abdallah’s exit because, “he came in an illegal way.” Abdallah was appointed by President Mohammed Morsy as part of his 21 November constitutional declaration.
Adly explains the way the process should have worked, “there is a High Council of Judges and they must choose the prosecutor general because he will be the head of their prosecution. But in this case, the president just chose.”
Adly Anis, a professor from Cairo University who was in the High Court on Monday to support the prosecutors, said, “if the independence of the judiciary is now gone, then Egypt is lost. If the president chooses a prosecutor general at his own will, then the judiciary is in his hands, which is unacceptable.”
Aida Nasif, a member of Free Egypt Party who was also present, added, “we’re in a very difficult and historic moment. Especially when we see judges ignored like this. The judges are attempting to maintain their role, which is to protect the law. And it is unacceptable to interfere with that.”
Mostafa Al-Khatib, who writes for Morsy’s Freedom and Justice Party newspaper, argued that the president’s move was necessary, “let me say it frankly, there are many judges in the courts who were appointed by Mubarak, so generally speaking, the courts do not accept the demands of many of the revolutionaries.”
Al-Khatib said that the removal of the prosecutor general was a revolutionary demand since the beginning of the uprising. When Morsy’s first move to replace him was rebuffed, he had little choice but to issue the constitutional declaration to reconcile the public demand.
“Constitutionally speaking,” said Al-Khatib, “what he did was legal because he has the right to issue such decrees. He chose an independent prosecutor, not related to any regime or political party.”
Amnesty International’s Mohamed Lotfy said that Morsy’s actions are contradictory to Egypt’s law of the judiciary which requires the presidential appointment of the prosecutor general to originate with a recommendation from the High Council of Judges.
“He also can’t dismiss the previous prosecutor general,” added Lotfy.
The constitutional declaration which made this switch has since been removed, but Lotfy points out, “its effects are still valid, namely that the new prosecutor general remains.”
Various forms of protests have taken place by the judiciary since the 21 November declaration. Yet the mood intensified last Wednesday when the Attorney General of East Cairo Mostafa Khater, was told to vacate his position at the behest of Abdallah.
Khater’s demotion was controversial because it originated in the dismissal of the detainees accused of violence outside the Presidential Palace. Khater dismissed them because his office claimed it had insufficient evidence, which placed the president in an awkward situation, after having said in a televised speech that he was in possession of evidence condemning those being detained.
Khater has since returned to his position, but protesting prosecutors see his removal and reinstatement as directives coming from the presidency which they say controls the new prosecutor general.