Egyptian President and Vice-President with United Nations envoy to Syria. Will Egypt intervene in the Syrian crisis?, a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
October 11, 2012
Egypt’s Chief Prosecutor Resists President’s Effort to Oust Him
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
New York Times
CAIRO — President Mohamed Morsi and Egypt’s chief prosecutor clashed Thursday as the prosecutor refused the president’s attempt to remove him.
It was one of the first skirmishes in a long-awaited battle pitting the Islamists who have risen to power since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak against the secular-minded legal establishment left over from the Mubarak era. Mr. Morsi sought to name the prosecutor, Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, ambassador to the Vatican. But by the end of the day, state news media had reported that Mr. Mahmoud had publicly refused to leave his job, citing a law barring the president from firing the prosecutor or other judicial officials.
Mr. Mahmoud was among the most unpopular Mubarak-era holdovers, and Mr. Morsi sought to remove him at a moment when the chief prosecutor’s public image had reached a new low. On Wednesday, his prosecutors failed to win a conviction of two dozen Mubarak allies charged with orchestrating an attack by thugs on the protesters who ousted Mr. Mubarak. Some of the thugs were mounted, and the resulting melee became known as the Battle of the Camels.
Mr. Mahmoud was also blamed for winning only a weak decision against Mr. Mubarak last spring. Mr. Mubarak and his sons were charged with corruption, and he and his top Interior Ministry officials were charged with directing the killing of protesters.
Only Mr. Mubarak was convicted of any charge, and the judge acknowledged that he was sentencing him to prison despite a lack of evidence — all but guaranteeing an appeal. In the Mubarak trial and the Battle of the Camels, the guilt of the accused is an article of faith to most Egyptians, but legal experts acknowledge that the cases appeared to be thin and politicized.
The effort to remove Mr. Mahmoud is one of Mr. Morsi’s first steps to put his stamp on the bureaucracy and legal system. Mr. Morsi and his Islamist allies in Parliament have long resented the Mubarak-era judiciary for its bias against them. But the mutual animosity reached a new peak last spring when the Mubarak-appointed Supreme Constitutional Court ordered the dissolution of the Islamist-dominated Parliament just as Mr. Morsi was winning the election.