Egypt judge orders investigation of human rights lawyers

[JURIST] An Egyptian judge on Wednesday ordered prosecutors to investigate three lawyers after they demanded to see their hunger-striking client in court. Three activist lawyers appeared in court to represent their client, Ahmed Douma, an activist who is serving a three-year sentence for protesting. Douma has recently gone on a hunger strike and is reportedly in ill health. The judge refused the lawyers' request to meet with their client and made Douma sit in a brown box throughout the course of the trial, where the lawyers were unable to see or speak to him. When one of the lawyers was seen standing in the courtroom against court etiquette, Judge Mohammed Nagui Shehata began berating them and accusing them of instigating a riot. The lawyer who was seen standing left the courtroom in protest. Shehata then ordered prosecutors to investigate the lawyers [AP report]. Violating court procedures is technically a misdemeanor, but it is rarely acted upon.

Egypt has faced political unrest since its revolution [JURIST backgrounder], which began more than two years ago. Throughout this unrest, the court system has issued a crackdown on protests and dissent. Last month an Egyptian court reduced the sentence [JURIST report] of the prominent activist Mahienour El-Masry from two years to six months, and fined her LE50,000 (USD $7,000), for violating Egypt's protest law. In June Shehata sentenced two Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in prison [JURIST report] and a third to a 10-year term. Last year Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abd El Fattah [Twitter feed] was arrested [JURIST report] on charges of inciting a demonstration in violation of the country's controversial new law restricting rights to protest. Egypt Prosecutor General Hisham Bakarat issued a warrant for Abd El Fattah for failing to notify the police [AhramOnline report] in advance of the protests he allegedly organized.

 

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