On the evening of Wednesday 24 November 2010, at around 8:00 pm more than 30 lawyers went to the South Giza regional office of the public prosecutor to attend the questioning of those accused in the Omrania police complaint n. 17262/2010 concerning the arrest of a number of Copts (Egyptian Christians) on the morning of 24 November 2010 in the area of Omrania during events related to the construction of a church in that area. Security forces surrounding the court house prevented the lawyers from entering the building where around 120 accused were being questioned. Finally 5 lawyers managed to enter and meet with Councillor Megahed Aly Megahed the head of the South Giza regional office of the public prosecutor. They informed the councillor that a number of lawyers some of whom were representatives of HR organizations ( Hisham Mubarak law Center – Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression – The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights – The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights – Nadim Center for treatment of violence victims and psychological rehabilitation – El Helaly association for liberties ) were willing to attend the questioning of the accused but were being prevented from entering the building by security forces. Councillor Megahed informed the lawyers that it was he himself who had ordered the security forces to deny entry to their colleagues, that those lawyers waiting outside were not connected to the accused and had no right to attend their questioning, that the five lawyers present before him could attend the questioning or leave the building right away. This was despite the fact that even with the lawyers outside the building there would not be enough to cover all those being questioned. The deputy prosecutors denied the lawyers request to consult privately with the accused, they refused to put on record the lawyers’ arguments that questioning the validity of the proceedings, they also refused to put on record the injuries sustained by some of the accused. All this despite the fact that the defendants were being accused of felonies, which makes the attendance of lawyers during questioning sessions mandatory (article 124 of the criminal proceedings code). The five lawyers present finally withdrew in protest at the intransigence of the deputy prosecutors’ office. They sent several complaints by telegram to the Attorney general. The South Giza regional office of the public prosecutor neglected his legal role to keep correct balance between his power as accusation authority and as questioning one. so it biased to the accusation side. This attitude violated the basic principle of fair trial and accused rights during the question specially the minimum core of attending the defence with any accused person during any legal proceeding. In the next few hours some of the lawyers will filed complaint to Attorney general asking him to start official question about the abuse of accused rights and defenders right which grantee in the Egyptian constitution and the criminal proceedings code. That maltreatment had taking place by the South Giza regional office of the public prosecutor not only by security forces.
Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression
El Helaly association for liberties
El Nadim Center for treatment of violence victims and psychological rehabilitation
Hisham Mobarak law center
The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights