MENASource|News, Analysis, Perspectives

January 6, 2016
Cairo Criminal Court acquitted Wednesday one defendant on retrial in the ‘Marriott Cell’ case. In June 2014, defendant Ahmed Abdallah and others were sentenced to ten years in absentia before Abdallah turned himself in to authorities for the retrial. Under Egyptian law, defendants convicted in absentia are granted an automatic retrial once in custody. Abdallah was accused of joining an outlawed organization, assaulting the personal freedom of citizens, harming national unity and public peace and targeting public facilities. This is the same case in which Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pardoned two Al-Jazeera journalists, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, in September. [Ahram OnlineAMAY, 1/6/2016]

POLITICS


Minister says 93 laws need to be reviewed by parliament  
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Magdy al-Agati said Tuesday that 93 laws need to be discussed when the newly-elected parliament convenes, most specifically the law regulating protests and the presidential election law. During an interview on MBC Masr, he said that the laws must be submitted to the parliament for review within 15 days during the first parliamentary session. Agati added that the government would not be offering suggestions to amend the protest law because it believes it does not need to be changed. He also objected to calls to amend the constitution. Meanwhile, as discussions over the position of speaker of the parliament continue, the National Movement Party, founded by former presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafiq, announced it would back Member of Parliament Sari Sayam for the position. The Free Egyptians Party said it finds no difference between all elected MPs, and the party would not mind Sari or any other MP as speaker. [AMAY, 1/6/2016]

COURTS

Advisory judicial body recommends accepting appeal against Kerdasa death sentences
Egypt’s Cassation Prosecution recommended on Wednesday that an appeal filed against a death sentence handed down to 149 defendants be accepted, in the case on the storming of the Kerdasa police station. The prosecution at the Court of Cassation recommended that the defendants, who include one woman, would be retried in a different court circuit. Recommendations issued by the Cassation Prosecution are not binding to the Court of Cassation. In February 2015, a Giza court handed down death sentences to 149 defendants and 34 others in absentia. [Aswat Masriya, 1/6/2016]

CAO head to be questioned amid defamation accusations by the Minister of Justice
The Court of Appeals summoned Head of the Central Auditing Authority Hisham Geneina to appear on January 18 and undergo interrogations regarding accusations of defamation, leveled against him by Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend, local media reported. Zend made the accusations following a television appearance by Geneina with TV host Wael al-Ebrashy in November 2014, in which Geneina questioned the integrity of investigations of charges he faced in the past. Ebrashy appeared in front of the court on Tuesday for questioning in the same case, on charges of giving Geneina a platform to make unfounded accusations against state actors. During the interview with Ebrashy, Geneina denied accusations that he faced of participating in the drafting of a statement signed by 56 judges in 2013 in which they supported the Brotherhood-led Raba’a al-Adaweya protests. The signatories were referred to a disciplinary committee. Geneina accused investigative authorities and the state apparatus of purposefully keeping this case open to tarnish his image. [DNE, Mada Masr, 1/5/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Mahmoud Hussein continues to await detention renewal | DNE
  • Minor detained for ‘carrying bomb’ | Cairo Post

ECONOMY

Egypt to issue letters of credit for delayed wheat shipments
Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) said it will issue delayed letters of credit for three wheat shipments waiting off France’s northern port of Dunkirk on Wednesday. The decision comes as new stricter import requirements are under discussion that could delay future wheat shipments to Egypt. The shipments of more than 180,000 tonnes of French wheat have been held up because exporters have not received letters of credit or guarantees of payment. GASC Vice Chairman Mamdouh Abdel Fattah said the delay was due to an administrative problem and not dollar liquidity issues. Some traders have experienced delays receiving letters of credit for supplying goods to Egyptian state buyers amid an acute shortage of dollars. Abdel Fattah added that GASC is also discussing potentially lowering the permitted level of ergot, a fungus that infects cereals, in wheat imports into Egypt. Traders said a lower ergot level would make supplying wheat to Egypt far more difficult. [Reuters, 1/6/2015]

Also of Interest
  • Egypt to reopen Suez Canal bridge after two-year closure | Ahram Online
  • Credit Agricole, BNP Paribas to finance Egypt's oil refinery expansion | Ahram Online
  • Egypt's stocks slightly up Tuesday amid foreign buying | Ahram Online
  • Saudi-Egyptian business council talks kick off in Riyadh Monday | Ahram Online
  • Intel Plans to Launch Competition on Industrial Projects For Egypt and the Region | DNE
  • Egyptian officials meet with Microsoft CEO to discuss new tech initiatives | AMAY
  • Egyptian government approves Chinese coal-fired power plant proposals | Reuters
  • Rights center warns against Egypt's reliance on coal as source of energy | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt’s M2 money supply rises 19.4 percent in November | Reuters
  • Egypt's listed firms issue bonus shares to avoid tax on cash dividends | Reuters
  • Egypt considers contract to bring Chinese tourists to Luxor and Aswan | DNE

SOCIETY & MEDIA

AOHR report says 267 extrajudicial killings in Egypt in 2015
There have been 267 cases of extrajudicial killing by Egyptian security forces in 2015, according to a report by the Arab Organization for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR). The report, released Monday, listed human rights violation cases in 2015 including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, suspicious deaths, and unlawful arrests. According to the report, Egyptian security forces killed 62 people including six children and three women, during protest dispersals. The report also added that 159 detainees died in police custody due to lack of medical care, injuries resulting from torture, and deteriorating conditions inside prison and police stations. The report also claimed that 38 people were killed under suspicious circumstances as they were purportedly killed during anti-terror operations of Egyptian security forces. In the report, AOHR condemned the judiciary in Egypt, saying that 395 people were sentenced to death while 1,978 were sentenced to life in prison. [DNE, 1/5/2016] .

Status of al-Aqrab prison remains in dispute
The Ministry of Interior released a statement Sunday on the National Council for Human Rights’ (NCHR) visit to al-Aqrab prison, which contradicts council statements and the detainee’s families’ complaints. The statement noted that after the delegation’s inspection of patient medical records and discussions with the prisoners, it was found that the prisoners are in good and stable medical and living conditions. The statement also noted that the al-Aqrab prison departments are offering the prisoners all the sufficient care and services. NCHR member George Ishaq said that the council’s report contradicts the ministry’s report. Ishaq said the delegation was denied access to wards and was not allowed to meet with five ill inmates it had asked to see. Prison authorities told them other inmates they requested to see were not in the prison, and requested their full names to check on their whereabouts. He added that prison authorities informed them they shouldn’t go inside the wards “because people are very agitated because they are all Brotherhood.” He said authorities claimed there would be “chaos” if they visited. [DNE, AP, 1/5/2016]

Also of Interest
  • ANHRI condemns detainment of Tunisian writer Amal Garmi at Cairo airport | DNE

SECURITY

Army spokesman says 43 militants killed, eight suspects arrested in past two days
North Sinai security forces killed 32 militants and arrested six suspects in the context of the "Martyr's Right" military operation in the towns of Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid, Army Spokesman Mohamed Samir said in a statement Tuesday. The Egyptian army undertook the first phase of the security operation in Northern Sinai last September. The first phase of the operation lasted for 16 days and the army announced the start of the second phase. In a Wednesday statement, Samir said that the Armed Forces killed another 11 militants and arrested two in northern and central Sinai. Wednesday’s death toll brings the number of alleged militants killed in the past four days to 98, within the second phase of the operation dubbed by the military as Egypt’s “largest” military action against “terrorists” in North Sinai. [Aswat Masriya, 1/6/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Sisi discusses national security with General Intelligence Service officials | Ahram Online
  • Egyptian security forces on alert ahead of Christmas celebrations | Cairo Post

INTERNATIONAL

Egyptian fishermen detained in Tunisia freed
Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has managed to secure the release of Egyptian fishermen who were detained for illegal fishing in Tunisia. In a statement issued on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid stated that 13 fishermen would return to Egypt either later this week or early next week.  He added, however, that three of the fishermen, including the captain of the Egyptian fishing boat, will remain in Tunisia to stand trial for trespassing and illegal fishing in Tunisian territorial waters in late December. The Egyptian embassy in Tunis and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will follow the trial, according to Abu Zeid. [Ahram Online, DNE, 1/5/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Egypt Foreign Minister meets with Chief Palestinian Commissioners | DNE

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