Situation of lawyers quickly deteriorating
The situation of Egyptian lawyers is quickly deteriorating. Lawyers are faced with arrests, prosecution and police violence that has even led to the deaths of two lawyers, while they were being held in police custody. The International Commission of Jurists has been documenting the attacks against lawyers in Egypt.
On 11 May 2015, El Raml Misdemeanor Court of Appeal heard the appeal of human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry. In February 2015 El-Massry was sentenced to two years imprisonment on charges of “assaulting security forces” after, in March 2013, she and other lawyers went to Raml police station to provide legal assistance to three activists who were arrested and sent to the police by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood (the “Raml police station” case). The sentence could be suspended upon payment of a 5,000 Egyptian Pounds fine (approximately €580). During the appeal hearing, the Court ordered the preventive detention of Mahienour El-Massry. Furthermore, the Court excluded relatives, friends of the defendants, and journalists from attending the session. The trial was adjourned to 31 May.
Imam Afifi and Karim Hamdi
On 10 April, Imam Afifi, a 63-year old lawyer, was assaulted and arrested in the Mataria neighbourhood where a demonstration was taking place against the government. He was detained in Mataria police station where he was allegedly subjected to torture, including a severe beating to his head. On 11 April, he was transferred to the hospital where he died on 22 April. Lawyer Karim Hamdi was arrested and questioned on 22 February, on suspicion of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, membership of which has been outlawed, and participating in an unauthorized demonstration against the government. While in police custody in Mataria police station, he was reportedly severely beaten on his neck, chest and abdomen. He died two days later after being transferred to hospital.
On 24 January 2015, human rights lawyer Azza Soliman voluntarily went to the Public Prosecution’s office to give her testimony regarding the violent dispersal of a protest organized by the political party Popular Alliance on the same day by security forces, which lead to the death of one political activist. Soliman did not take part in the protest, but was coincidentally in the same area and witnessed the dispersal and the shooting of the activist. On March 23, 2015 Egyptian prosecutors decided that Azza Soliman was no longer a witness in the case but a defendant. She is accused of protesting illegally and of breaching public order and security.
Lawyers for Lawyers called on the Egyptian authorities to end all kinds of harassment towards lawyers, and to guarantee lawyers can do their work without improper interference.
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