The State Council Administrative Court adjourned the trial of former chief of the Central Auditing Organisation (CAO) Hisham Geneina to 25 October. In the upcoming session, the court is expected to issue its final verdict.
The appeal was filed by Geneina against the constitutionality of the presidential decree that allows the expulsion of chiefs of regulatory bodies.
Geneina told journalists after the session, that he respects the judiciousness of the verdict even if it was against him. “I hope this decision will not be used as a tool to intimidate the upcoming CAO chiefs,” he said.
According to Geneina, the CAO is mandated to supervise the executive power and by allowing executive powers to exercise control over the agency, it will not be able to fulfil its tasks and duties.
Following the session, defence lawyer Ali Taha disclosed the main aspects of Geneina’s defence in the trial. He said the defence team had earlier submitted documents questioning the authority of the president in issuing such a decree.
He referred to Article 56 of the 2014 Constitution, which states that the president should only issue decrees in the case of an emergency or as a precautionary measure—this does not apply to Geneina’s case.
The presidential decree includes broad and vague conditions for penalties against CAO chiefs, such as harming national security. He said that more accurate terms should be used to stipulate penalties against auditors.
Taha further questioned the timing of issuing such a decree and its implications of diminishing the oversight role on executive power.
Referring to several cases that the agency is mandated to monitor, he said: “Did the state have to issue such a decree before the maritime demarcation deal between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, or the probe into the wheat case, or the monopoly of subsidised milk?”
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi expelled Geneina from his position in March, following press statements on corruption in 2015. Geneina was sentenced to one year in prison by the Cairo Misdemeanour Court in late July on charges of spreading false news. Monday’s session was part of the appeal issued by his defence team against the one-year prison sentence.
Al-Sisi issued a decree in July 2015, giving him the power to dismiss, replace, and appoint heads of regulatory bodies, despite the constitution guaranteeing their independence from the state’s executive branch.