Update| The Public Prosecutor's Office Prevents Lawyers from Attending Interrogations of Copts Accused in Omraniya Events
On the evening of Wednesday 24 November 2010, at around 8:00 pm more than 30 lawyers went to the southern Giza office of the public prosecutor to attend the questioning of those accused in the Omraniya police complaint (no.17262/2010) concerning the arrest of a number of Copts on the morning of 24 November 2010 in the area of Omraniya during events related to the construction of a church in that area. Security forces surrounding the court house prevented the lawyers from entering the building where around 120 accused were being questioned. Only five lawyers managed to enter and meet with General Prosecutor Megahed Aly Megahed the head of the southern Giza office of the public prosecutor. They informed the general prosecutor that a number of lawyers - some of whom were representatives of human rights organizations (Hisham Mubarak Law Center - Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression - The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights - The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights – El-Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence - El Helaly Association for Liberties) were willing to attend the interrogations of the accused but were prevented from entering the building by security forces. General Prosecutor Megahed informed the lawyers that it was he himself who had ordered the security forces to deny entry to their colleagues, that those lawyers waiting outside were not connected to the accused and had no right to attend their questioning and that the five lawyers present before him could attend the questioning or leave the building right away. This was despite the fact that even with the lawyers outside the building there would not be enough to attend with all those being questioned. The prosecutors denied the lawyers' request to consult privately with the accused, they refused to put on record the lawyers' arguments questioning the validity of the proceedings and they also refused to put on record the injuries sustained by some of the accused; all this despite the fact that the defendants were being accused of felonies, which makes the attendance of lawyers during interrogation sessions mandatory (according to Article 124 of the Criminal Procedures Code). The five lawyers present finally withdrew in protest at the intransigence of the prosecutors' office. They sent several complaints by telegram to the Public Prosecutor.
In the next few hours some of the lawyers will also file a complaint with the Public Prosecutor asking him to register their complaint against the southern Giza prosecutor's office in violating the accused's rights as guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution and the Criminal Procedures Code.
- El Helaly Association for Liberties
- El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
- The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
- The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
- The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
- The Hisham Mubarak Law Center