Egypt’s Court of Cassation overturned on Sunday a 15-year jail sentence issued to a police officer for the fatal shooting of protester Shaimaa al-Sabbagh during a peaceful march last year in downtown Cairo. The court ordered a new trial of the Central Security Forces (CSF) officer Yaseen Mohamed Hatem in front of a different district court. The policeman’s lawyer, Farid al-Deeb, argued that the protest took place under “exceptional” circumstances since it commemorated the fourth anniversary of the revolution, and that if the defendant had the intention to shoot to kill, dozens of victims would have died. He added that the protest march did not obtain prior permission from the Interior Ministry as per the protest law, leading officers securing the square to panic. In today’s session, the appeal court’s prosecution recommended amending the charges to “beating to death” instead of “premeditated murder.” The party is meanwhile pushing to include additional defendants in Hatem’s retrial.  SPAP leader Medhat al-Zahed said Sunday the party’s political bureau urged lawyers to prosecute the conscript who was loading the rifle for the CSF officer, as well as the commander who ordered the shooting. In related news, Alexandria criminal court acquitted on Tuesday former national security officer Hossam al-Shennawy in a retrial on charges of torturing to death detainee Sayed Bilal. Shennawy was sentenced to 15 years in prison before he was granted a retrial. The sentence can still be appealed by the prosecution. [Ahram Online, DNE, AMAY, AP, Reuters, Mada Masr, The  Guardian, 2/16/2016]


Sisi declares transfer of legislative powers to parliament
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced the transfer of legislative powers from the executive authority to the House of Representatives in an address on Saturday morning, marking the end of Egypt’s legislative hiatus in which the president had assumed the power to issue laws unchecked in the absence of an elected parliament. In his half-hour speech to the Parliament, the president’s first since its inauguration in January, Sisi stated, “We will not allow anything to disrupt our path to growth and prosperity. I declare the transfer of legislative powers to the parliament and I wish you well.” In the all-encompassing speech, Sisi talked about the economy, militancy in North Sinai, and repeated several times how Egypt had been fraught with challenges over the past year. Speaking of his efforts to lead Egypt in the fight against extremist groups, Sisi stated, “we were able to break terrorism in the (Nile) valley, in Sinai, on the Western borders,” adding that “we are still continuing this fight [against terrorism] without languor or fatigue.” On the state of Egypt’s economy, Sisi said that one of the government’s current aims is to attract more foreign investments, which have the potential to increase GDP. Sisi cited the construction of the Suez Canal extension, completed last year, as well as the Suez Canal industrial development zones, which are currently being built, as examples that highlight his commitment to economic growth. He also urged parliament to keep issues of education, health, media, and the renewal of religious discourse at the top of its agenda. Sisi was met with enthusiastic applause from many parliamentarians, and cries of “long live Egypt!” A video published by Al-Masry Al-Youm, meanwhile, showed a woman waiting outside the parliamentary building as Sisi arrived, screaming “Have mercy on my son,” as the president made his way inside. The footage was circulated widely on social media after Sisi’s speech, with many users criticizing the president and the current lack of justice in Egypt. [AMAY, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, Ahram Online, DNE, 2/13/2016]

Cabinet to present program to parliament in February; Government resubmits Civil Service law
Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail is scheduled to present his cabinet’s program to the parliament by the end of February or in early March in preparation for the MP vote of confidence, state-owned MENA news agency reported on Monday. A majority vote of confidence in the cabinet is required within 30 days of its formation. If a majority vote is not reached, the president appoints another Prime Minister based on the majority party or coalition. Ismail told MENA that the cabinet’s strategic and economic program will be handed out to the MPs during the parliamentary session. According to unnamed sources, a cabinet reshuffle could also take place in March, with up to ten ministers replaced. The government also announced Sunday that the disputed Civil Service law was re-submitted to the House of Representatives for approval after amendments were made by the Ministries of Finance and Planning. Minister of Planning Ashraf al-Araby said in a TV interview that Parliament’s Committee on Labor Power, which discussed the law before it was turned down in a vote, demanded amendments to penalties and complaints articles in the 18/2015 law. The Minister of Planning said after the amendments, the government entities in question which include the presidency, judiciary, military, and others, will not be exempt from implementing the law. [Ahram Online, DNE, 2/15/2016]

Also of Interest

  • High-profile Egyptian MP Sirri Siam may retract resignation | Ahram Online
  • Sisi says Democracy will be achieved in 20-25 years | AMAY
  • Sisi says presidential pardon for Morsi premature | AMAY


Court sentences Zamalek fans for Mortada Mansour assault
Giza Criminal Court, headed by Judge Moataz Khafagy, sentenced 15 members of the Ultras White Knights football fan club to one year in prison with labor on Monday for trying to storm the Zamalek Sports Club’s headquarters and conspiring to kill MP Mortada Mansour, the former head of the club. Eleven of the defendants were given jail sentences for plotting to kill Mansour, while four were jailed for trying to storm the club’s headquarters. This case dates back to August 2014 when then-Zamalek Chairman Mortada Mansour said he was shot at and that three people were injured in the incident. The defendants were previously sentenced to one year in prison, but they challenged the ruling and a retrial was ordered by a higher court. Prosecutors accused the defendants of using violence and conducting surveillance on Mansour with intent to kill him using weapons they had prepared. After the verdict was announced in court on Monday, defendants and their families shouted angrily, accusing the court of favoring Mansour. The Ultras White Knights group said in a short statement on its Facebook page that it hoped its members would be acquitted before the Court of Cassation. [Ahram Online, DNE, AMAY, Aswat Masriya, 2/15/2016]

Egypt court orders new investigation into deadly ‘Air Defense Stadium’ violence
The Cairo Criminal Court ordered on Sunday a reinvestigation into the violence which took place ahead of a football game outside the Air Defense Stadium in February 2015, in which 20 people were killed. The 16 defendants involved in the case are to remain in custody on accusations of murder and attempted murder, as well as vandalizing public property and attacking security officers. The court referred the case to an investigations judge, who was also one of the three presiding judges during the last investigation, asking that it be retried in court in six months. Defense lawyer Mokhtar Mounir told Mada Masr that the re-referral indicates the prosecution did not do a satisfactory job of investigating the case in the first place. “The defense team demanded the interrogation of [head of the Zamalek Club] Mortada Mansour, who appeared in videos threatening Zamalek fans with a ‘surprise’ before the game. Mansour also deliberately bought 5,000 out of 10,000 tickets allocated for club members to attend the game, which was a direct reason for the over-crowdedness that later caused the deadly stampede,” Mounir asserted. “The court decision partially meets the demands of Zamalek club fans,” Mounir added, referring to a protest recently organized to commemorate the first anniversary of the deaths this month, which included thousands of fans and families of the victims, who openly accused Mansour of masterminding the incident. [DNE, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 2/14/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Court sentences 34 ‘Brotherhood members’ to three years for 2013 Suez charges | Ahram Online, AMAY
  • After more than 600 days in detention, Aya Hegazy’s trial postponed for fourth time | Mada Masr
  • Prosecutor orders arrest of Facebook administrator for ‘insulting’ Egyptian women | Ahram Online
  • Court slams investigations in Al-Azhar University students’ trial | DNE


Egypt raises deposit cap to $1 million for exporters
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) on Monday raised the cap on foreign currency deposits at banks to $1 million a month for exporting companies to ease restrictions that have led to manufacturing components piling up at ports. The new regulations give firms three months to earn foreign revenues through their exports, equivalent to the sum they deposit, to finance imports of components. The decision comes after the CBE raised the monthly cap on foreign exchange deposits from $50,000 to $250,000 last month for essential goods. Meanwhile, a CBE official said Tuesday that the bank is not moving towards devaluing the pound or floating its currency. “Thinking in this direction is absolutely untrue,” an unnamed central bank official said in response to speculation that Egypt might allow the pound to weaken against the dollar. [Reuters, Bloomberg, DNE, 2/15/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s jobless rate eases to 12.7 percent in fourth quarter of 2015 | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s main stocks rebound early Monday on CIB-Sawiris acquisition deal | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s GASC says Bunge offered to replace rejected French wheat | Ahram Online
  • Audi Bank-Egypt EBRD sign $30 loan agreement to support SMEs in Egypt | DNE
  • Foreign reserves increase slightly, auto industry still feels the pinch | Mada Masr


Egypt’s journalists union calls for general assembly to review new media laws
Egypt’s Journalists’ Syndicate called on Sunday for a general assembly on March 4 to discuss several issues including press freedoms and the recently proposed media and press law. “This general assembly comes at a very critical time in Egypt. Aside from the usual matters related to the syndicate, we have the issue of press freedom and the media laws proposed by the government,” Khaled al-Balshy, head of the Freedoms Committee and the Journalists’ Syndicate told Ahram Online. Balshy called on fellow syndicate members to attend the assembly at the syndicate headquarters in Cairo. According to the Journalists’ Syndicate, there are currently 32 journalists – not all syndicate members – detained and jailed in Egypt, including 18 in cases related to journalism. The House of Representatives is expected to discuss the unified draft law for media and journalism, which was initially drafted by the Journalists’ Syndicate, the Media Industry Chamber, the High Council of Journalism, and a number of legal experts, before sending it to the cabinet. The draft law aims to regulate the licensing and day-to-day operation of press and media in Egypt. Leading members of the Journalists’ Syndicate expressed their concern that the unified media and journalism draft law may be amended by the government in a manner that does not serve journalists’ interests. [Ahram Online, 2/15/2016]

Doctors Syndicate votes to refer minister to disciplinary committee, provide free medical care
The Doctors Syndicate general assembly voted Friday to approve a set of demands including the referral of Minister of Health Ahmed Emad al-Din to a disciplinary committee and has called for his dismissal from the cabinet. The general assembly said the minister was incapable of defending the rights of medical practitioners.  The assembly also decided to provide medical services to citizens for free in public hospitals starting February 26 until policemen accused of assaulting doctors at Matariya Hospital are referred to court. Additionally, the assembly approved the closure of any hospital that is subject to an attack, rejected the health insurance bill, and called on parliament to issue a new law that protects doctors from assault. The assembly stated that if their demands are not met within two weeks, doctors will institute a partial strike. In response to the syndicate’s decisions, the Health Minister said he can only be questioned by the parliament. His statements, however, focused primarily on the decision to provide free medical care.  “According to the law and constitution, the money that the citizens pay in public hospitals to receive treatment goes directly to the state treasury, or used as funds allocated to improve services or as bonuses for doctors,” he said.  “I see that the decisions taken by the general assembly are inconsiderate to the state,” he added. The minister also invited the syndicate’s council for talks with the government. The Free Egyptians Party, on the other hand, endorsed the syndicate’s decisions. Another altercation between a doctor and policeman, meanwhile, took place at a hospital in Bulaq, according to a Monday statement by the Doctors Syndicate. The statement added that the incident received unusual attention from state bodies, as officials from the Giza Governorate, the Health Ministry and the Interior Ministry stepped in to mediate a reconciliation. In related news, dozens of lawyers protested outside a courtroom in Gharbiya Tuesday morning, condemning an alleged assault by a policeman on one of their colleagues. [DNE, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 2/16/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Cairo University bans female staff from wearing face veil in its hospitals | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Salafi preacher calls on Cairo University students to disobey face veil ban | Ahram Online
  • Rights groups condemn Cairo University’s revoking of lecturer study permit | Ahram Online
  • Cairo University reverses cancellation of professor’s sabbatical | Mada Masr
  • Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood cuts ties to Egypt’s parent group | AP, DNE
  • CBC show suspended for guest’s claims on Upper Egyptian female infidelity | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s Minya commemorates 20 Copts killed by ISIS in Libya | Ahram Online, MENA
  • Implicated in debts, taxi drivers challenged by app-based services | DNE
  • Local rights group reviews Egypt’s environmental progress since COP21 | DNE
  • AFTE issues report on security violations against Egyptian cultural production | DNE
  • Human Rights Monitor: Inmates’ families assaulted outside Al-Aqrab prison | DNE
  • 25 reappear in Alexandria after reported forced disappearances | DNE
  • Journalists’ Syndicate welcomes approval of syndicate for media professionals | AMAY


Sinai State claims responsibility for Arish attack; IED explosion in North Sinai
Two Egyptian army personnel were killed and another injured when a bomb detonated in North Sinai on Saturday morning, the military said. Security personnel discovered an explosive device while combing the area of Karm al-Qawadis. Attempts to dismantle the bomb led to its detonation, a statement published on the military spokesman’s official Facebook page said. Militant group Sinai State, meanwhile, issued a statement Saturday claiming it killed seven security personnel in two attacks in al-Arish. “The soldiers of the Caliphate planted two bombs: one targeted a car of the apostate military intelligence apparatus … and another targeted an armed personnel carrier of the apostate police,” the group said in a statement, which was circulated on social media by its sympathizers. The statement could not be independently verified. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, AMAY, 2/14/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Interior Ministry reports detainee dies during escape attempt at Egyptian police station | Ahram Online, DNE, AMAY, Aswat Masriya
  • Government to establish airport security company | AMAY


Egypt seeks balance between security and freedoms, Sisi tells Albright and Hadley 
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley that now that Egypt has finished its post 2013 transition period goals, Cairo is focused on development, adding that the country wants to create a balance between security and freedoms. Albright and Hadley visited with Sisi in Cairo on Sunday as part of an Atlantic Council delegation. The president’s Advisor on National Security Affairs, Fayza Abul Naga, also attended the meeting. Sisi said the current circumstances make it necessary for Egypt and the United States to develop their strategic relations, adding that Cairo and Washington must base their relationship on mutual interests and respect. The meeting also tackled regional challenges in the Middle East, especially in Syria, Libya, and Yemen. [Ahram Online, AMAY, 2/15/2016]

Egypt’s police deny reports Regeni was detained before death
Egypt’s police denied that an Italian student who was recently found dead in Egypt had been in custody as he disappeared days before his recent murder. The Egyptian Interior Ministry said in a statement,  published on its official Facebook page Monday, that “some Western newspapers have published completely false news on the conditions of his disappearance. The statement added that a team of investigators is in “complete cooperation” with the Italian authorities to determine the circumstances of the killing, and that results of the investigation will be made public once “definite information is obtained.” The New York Times reported on Friday that three Egyptian security officials, whom it did not name, “said that Mr. Regeni had been taken into custody by the authorities.” The Independent newspaper reported Saturday that Italian police has a witness who saw Regeni “being stopped” by plainclothes security officers on the evening he disappeared. Egypt’s forensics authority, meanwhile, handed over to the Prosecutor General’s office on Saturday its final autopsy report on Regeni. The Prosecutor General’s office said it would not publicly disclose the contents of the report as the investigation was ongoing.  However, a senior source at the forensics authority told Reuters that Regeni had seven broken ribs, signs of electrocution on his penis, traumatic injuries all over his body, and a brain hemorrhage. His body also bore signs of cuts from a sharp instrument suspected to be a razor, abrasions, and bruises. He was likely assaulted using a stick as well as being punched and kicked, the source added. Egypt’s General Prosecution also received mobile tracking reports showing that his last phone was made at 7:20 pm while he was close to his home in Giza’s Dokki district in Greater Cairo. [Ahram Online, DNE, AMAY, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 2/15/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Parliament speaker urges recovery of stolen assets from Switzerland | Ahram Online, DNE, AMAY, SIS
  • Sisi to keep Gaza border open for extra day | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya
  • 1,323 from Egypt, Gaza cross Rafah on first day of border opening | Ahram Online, AMAY
  • Kuwait FM in Cairo for 11th joint Egyptian-Kuwaiti Council meetings | Ahram Online
  • Sisi to visit Japan, South Korea in late February | Ahram Online, DNE
  • Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia summit meeting to be held in Sharm al-Sheikh | Ahram Online, DNE
  • Russia, Egypt Airline to Sign SSJ100s Delivery Deal in March | Ahram Online
  • Foreign Minister says military option will not result in any solution for Syria | DNE
  • NGO demands whereabouts of eight Egyptians kidnapped in Libya | AMAY
  • Sisi says Egypt to continue supporting development efforts in Eritrea | SIS