• November 27, 2014
  • 5 minutes read

PRESS RELEASE: High Court Order Opens Door for Potential Prosecution of Egyptian Cabinet Members

PRESS RELEASE: High Court Order Opens Door for Potential Prosecution of Egyptian Cabinet Members

The Crown Prosecution Service has agreed to an Order, sealed at the High Court in London on 26 November 2014, making the potential for prosecution of members of the Egyptian cabinet a very real prospect in the United Kingdom.

The Order confirms that members of the Egyptian Cabinet can be investigated for international crimes, including torture, with a view to their future prosecution even though they are currently members of the cabinet.

The Order was agreed by the Crown Prosecution Service during Judicial Review proceedings which had been lodged on behalf of the Egyptian Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) at the High Court in London. The legal team was led by former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Ken Macdonald QC and included leading lawyers Rodney Dixon QC, Tayab Ali and Ravi Naik.

On 28 February 2014 a dossier prepared on behalf of the FJP was submitted to the War Crimes Team of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, SO15. The Metropolitan Police agreed to meet with the lawyers of the FJP and subsequently opened an investigation into the allegations contained in the dossier. Those allegations have the potential to implicate members of the 2013 post-coup Egyptian cabinet and members of the military and security services in crimes against humanity including torture and including involvement in the deaths of thousands of unarmed protestors at Rabaa Square.

On 3 March 2014, consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions was requested for a private arrest warrant for the Egyptian Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade, Mr Mounir Fakhry Abdel Noor, as he was travelling to the United Kingdom.

The Crown Prosecution Service responded on 4 March 2014 stating that it considered that Mr Noor’s ministerial positon “would attract personal immunity under customary international law”. Following this decision Judicial Review proceedings were lodged in the High Court with a view to overturning the CPS’s position on immunity.

However, prior to the Judicial Review, the CPS stated that they had not asserted that Mr Noor and others in the cabinet have immunity. The CPS agreed to this position in the High Court Order confirming that “they had not made a decision that Mr Noor (and other members on the cabinet) are immune” from prosecution. 

The CPS also agreed to inform the Metropolitan Police that “issues of immunity do not preclude investigations into allegations against persons still in office, irrespective of their function, for the purpose of future prosecution”. The FJP and CPS agreed to a High Court Order stating that “immunity is not a bar to the investigation of Mounir Fakhry Abdel Noor and others that have been named in the course of the proceedings”.

Tayab Ali, a member of the legal team instructed by the FJP said that “Today’s High Court Order marks an important step in international criminal justice. The agreement that immunity will not prevent the police investigation for the purpose of future prosecutions is a clear signal that there are fewer and fewer safe havens for those that commit international crimes. My client will continue to assist with the police’s investigation”.

Tayab Ali added “We should remember that these crimes are not historic ones.  Thousands are still detained in Egypt including Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s only democratically elected civilian President. Hundreds still face the death penalty following show trials which breached the most basic human rights norms. The outcome of these Judicial Review proceedings should make those in all governments think very carefully about complicity in criminal acts”.