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Egypt Lawyers reject bill, suspend strike
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 24 - 10 - 2011

CAIRO - Lawyers in a general assembly meeting at the Bar Association Monday renewed their rejection of a new Judicial Authority bill, which is set to toughen penalties against them, calling on the draft law to be delayed until a new parliament is elected.
The general assembly, which was attended by more than 7,000 lawyers from across Egypt, also suspended a strike which they started on Saturday, urging the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to hold their elections on November 20 as scheduled, without "much more delays".
"The Judicial Authority draft bill should be dropped for the time being until a new parliament and a new board for the Bar Association are elected," read a statement, which was issued at the end of the general assembly meeting.
The statement, read out by the association's oldest lawyer Zakaria Idriss who chaired the meeting, urged the SCAF to purge the judiciary from the 'corrupt judges' who took part in rigging the election in 2010 under the regime of Hosni Mubarak.
"However, the lawyers' strike will be suspended to give the Supreme Judicial Council a chance to implement the recommendations of the Bar Association's general assembly," the statement said.
After the general assembly's meeting had come to an end by midday, hundreds of lawyers marched to the Judges' Club and the Supreme Court.
The lawyers blocked some streets raising banners reading "Void… Void" in reference to the Judicial Authority bill and "Field Marshal … the judiciary needs to be purged".
"The lawyers will give the judges, the Government and the SCAF a chance to respond to our demands. Otherwise, we will escalate against them," said Abdel Gawad Ahmed, a lawyer.
"It's become a matter of dignity for lawyers". The lawyers are angry over the bill drafted by the Judges' Club, set to toughen penalties for lawyers in cases of contempt of court.
According to the new bill, judges could sentence lawyers up to five years in prison for insulting the court.
The controversial article also gives judges the power to detain lawyers inside the courtroom if they are seen to disrupt order.
Heads of the nation's courts of appeal, meanwhile, called on the Government, the Judges' Club and the Government to defer discussions on the controversial bill until the parliament is elected.
"This decision came in light of the attacks against courts and judges. However, the SCAF is urged to protect the courts to help judges do their job," read a joint statement by the heads of courts of appeals in Cairo, Alexandria, Qena, Tanta, Mansoura, Assiut and Ismailia.
The intensifying crisis between the lawyers and the judges has got the ruling military council involved. A military council official told local media on Friday that the disputed law had not been presented to the council for approval yet.
The official added that the law was still being considered. But this seems to be making the Justice Minister angrier. He threatened to take punitive measures against those who hinder Egypt's justice system.

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