Judges Critical of Government Lose Immunity

Upon a request by the Prosecutor General, the Higher Judiciary Council decided to strip four reformist judges of their judiciary immunity to allow investigations into allegations of misconduct filled against them. The Judges’ Union which advocates political and judiciary reform considered the decision by the government an ’intimidating campaign’ against judges to stop their pressures for reform. Meanwhile, some observers regarded the procedure as merely punitive for the judges’ anti-government attitude, especially concerning ballot rigging.
According to the union secretary Ahmed Saber, the four justices are: Mahmoud el-Khodary, the chairman of Alexandria Judges’ union, two deputy chief justices of the Court of Cassation, Hesham el-Bastawisy and Ahmed Maky, in addition to Mahmud Maky, a member of the union’s Board of Directors
“They took such measures to silence us,” said one of the judges, Hesham al-Bastawissi, deputy chief justice of the Court of Cassation, the highest appellate court in Egypt. “But we will not be silenced. Egypt deserves democracy, freedom, and free, transparent and fair elections.”

The Office of the State Security Prosecutor said the prosecutor was not available for comment, and Magdi Radi, the senior government spokesman, referred questions to the judges themselves.

’Withdrawing immunity is another chapter of the government intimidating campaign against the union’s leaders to abort their vital demands concerning the approval of Judiciary Independence Bill proposed by the union ten years ago but yet to be signed by the government into law” said the union’s deputy Nagey Derbalah.
He regarded the measure ’an attempt to  undermine the upcoming protests by judges at the Alexandria union’s headquarters scheduled Friday February 17th. The union has called for the stand to press the government to approve the bill.’
’The stand is to be held on its due time. We have invited all judges to participate and most of them supported it. Moreover, and in a show of soildarity, judges who have initially declined the invitation will now join the protest after learning of the unjust decision to strip their fellow judges of judiciary immunity’ Derbalah remarked.