The Tanta Misdemeanors Appeal Court postponed on Sunday appeals by lawyers Ehab Sai el-Din and Mustafa Fatuh — two lawyers sentenced to five years in prison for assaulting Tanta Chief Prosecutor Basim Abu el-Rus — to 4 July. According to the court decision, the two lawyers are to remain in detention until their appeal is heard.
Over a thousand lawyers gathered outside the Tanta courthouse to demonstrate in support of their colleagues. Fearing possible riots, security forces closed streets leading to the courthouse. Present inside the courtroom was Lawyers Syndicate Chairman Hamdi Khalifa, along with several of regional syndicate heads.
News of the decision provoked an angry reaction among lawyers present, who had been expecting their imprisoned colleagues to be released on bail pending the appeal. Sunday’s newspaper headlines focused on rumors of a deal struck between Khalifa and the government, in which lawyers would end their ongoing strike in exchange for the release of el-Din and Fatuh.
After the court decision was announced, clashes occurred both inside and outside of the courtroom. Lawyers assembled outside vowed to file a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council over the issue.
Lawyers also planned to stage a demonstration in Cairo on Monday to protest the decision. Angered by Khalifa’s decision to end the strike on Sunday — before the release of el-Din and Fatuh — lawyers began collecting signatures in support of a declaration of no-confidence in the Lawyers Syndicate Council.
Only some regional branches of the Lawyers Syndicate chose to heed Khalifa’s order to conclude the strike on Sunday. While lawyers in Dammiat, Qaliubiya and Beheira returned to courtrooms on Sunday, lawyers in Assiut and Fayoum maintained their strike. It is expected that Sunday’s appeal decision will lead to calls among syndicate members for a second strike.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.