CAIRO: The Free Judges Coalition called for “purification of the judiciary” on Saturday, particularly by investigating the current Prosecutor General, the former Minister of Justice, and all members of judiciary implicated in election rigging the past decade.
The judges threatened with “escalation” if the “legitimate and legal complaints were not addressed by Jan. 25.”
“Judges, who once were the people of justice, lost their own justice,” said Ahmed Garhy, head of the Free Judges Coalition, addressing what was termed the “2005 judiciary massacre” at a press conference at the Ghad Al-Thawra Party headquarters in downtown Cairo.
He referred to an inquisition started by the former justice minister Mamdouh Marei against 300 judges in 2005 in the wake of complaints of fraud in the presidential and legislative elections. “Some [judges] were forced to resign while others were moved to non-judicial posts … their complaints were not investigated.”
“In 2005, the former head of the [then] Supreme Electoral Commission Marei had a deal with the regime, where fraud would be allowed in exchange of his appointment as Minister of Justice,” claimed Garhy. He then said that Marei announced reforms during his tenure that were “reforms of corruption.”
“Pro-regime judges were promoted by state security to top ministry echelons, while those who protested were subject to the judiciary inquisition. Judges were forced to resign under harsh conditions,” he said, citing examples of ailing judges held for long hours in confinement and prevented from medication, pending their resignation.
Members of the coalition called for investigating Marei and his associates in the “judiciary massacre,” and the reinstatement of all judges affected and excluded by the inquisition. They also called for putting on trial all judges and prosecutors that committed fraud while supervising the 2005 and 2010 elections through the Supreme Electoral Commission.
Members of the coalition called in a statement for investigating the Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud on accounts of abstaining from examining complaints against police officers and senior officials in state administrative and financial supervision authorities in 2011.
The statement also called for forming a special and independent judicial committee from judges of the council of state, military judiciary, and law professors, not exceeding 45 years of age. It also demanded the immediate investigation of criminal complaints against every judge and prosecutor.
Former ambassador and judge, Abdullah Al-Ash’al, said that nominal independence for the judiciary was insufficient, adding that the system needed internal reforms and rehabilitation first. Necessary measures that should have been taken since February 2011 were still lacking, he added.
“We call upon the [justice] minister to review the complaints and investigate them properly,” he said.
“The state of law is based on the concept of the separation of powers. The judiciary’s role is to supervise the other authorities of the state,” said Taysir Fahmy, actress and head of the Justice and Equality Party.
She also called for an independent budget for the judiciary, and that the judges’ general assemblies be in full control of the system, while the executive authority’s role to be eliminated.
At the press conference, Garhy presented different cases that demonstrated the foul play he accused the former minister of justice of.
Judge Yasser Ghoneim was allegedly asked by Marei to rule in favor of his nephews in case he was presiding. When Ghoneim didn’t comply, he was forced to early retirement, at age 36.
On the other hand, Garhy told of an unnamed judge who was allegedly implicated in narcotics use and prostitution, and was responsible for losing evidence in a money-forgery case. He was nevertheless cleared by the ministry and only “notices” issued against him.
Another case was that of a judge accused of “sexual bribes” and who was sentenced to 10 years, of which he served only one after his father’s – former judge – scheming. Not only was he acquitted on a procedural error, but also restored to the bench and later sent for a temporary post in Dubai, Garhy claimed.