Top News: Fire Destroys Offices at South Cairo Criminal Court; Judge Says Fires Were Deliberate

Cairo Court.jpg

A fire has severely damaged the prosecution offices at the South Cairo Criminal Court in Bab El-Khalq. The fire, which broke out early on Thursday morning, destroyed everything inside and caused the ceiling to collapse, al-Ahram Arabic news website reports. 


Presidency changes mind, admits to tweet critical of US Embassy 

The president’s office retracted an earlier statement denying that it had sent an angry tweet to the US Embassy after the latter institution posted a message promoting a video of US comedian Jon Stewart defending local TV personality Bassem Youssef. On Thursday, the presidency sent out a press release confirming that it did indeed send out the confrontational tweet, and that it was still posted on the site. [Egypt Independent, 4/4/2013]

ElBaradei demands resignation of govt, prosecutor-general, denounces call to strip him of Egyptian nationality 
Constitution Party founder and National Salvation Front (NSF) leader Mohamed ElBaradei has said the government and prosecutor-general should step down for the sake of the country. "Keeping the government and the prosecutor-general crumbles the chances of building a national consensus, escalates political struggles, makes communities more polarized and causes economic deterioration," ElBaradei said via Twitter on Thursday. He also denounced a lawsuit filed against him to drop his Egyptian nationality.  An administrative court today delayed ruling in the lawsuit, filed by Hamed Seddiq, against ElBaradei until May 2.  [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 4/4/2013]

Also of Interest: 
Opposition forces slam Islamists’ meat sales | Egypt Independent
Al-Dostour Party youth launch initiative | DNE
Morsi announces formation of an advisory council for Egyptians abroad | ONA (Arabic)


Fire destroys offices at South Cairo Criminal Court; Judge says fires were deliberate
A fire has severely damaged the prosecution offices at the South Cairo Criminal Court in Bab El-Khalq. The fire, which broke out early on Thursday morning, destroyed everything inside and caused the ceiling to collapse, al-Ahram Arabic news website reports. The prosecutor-general has ordered an investigation. A preliminary examination reportedly suggests that the fire destroyed all cases reviewed by central and western Cairo courts. The files were kept inside the prosecution secretaries offices which were engulfed in flames. News reports claim that the fire destroyed the documents of the lawsuit against former Libyan official Ahmed Qaddaf Al-Dam, documents of the lawsuit accusing Ultras groups of torching the Egyptian Football Association and the Police Club, a lawsuit involving the Moqattam clashes, and a lawsuit investigating the 2011 Mohamed Mahmoud street clashes. An official told Al Masry al Youm that he does not know whether the fire was accidental or deliberate, while a senior appeal court judge says the fires were started deliberately to destroy evidence against Mubarak regime officials, a senior appeal court judge has claimed. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Ahram (Arabic), 4/4/2013]

Shafiq slams court’s reluctance to investigate election fraud charges 
Failed presidential candidate and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq criticized the Cairo Court of Appeals president for delegating investigations into allegations of fraud during the presidential elections to another judge, 10 months after the charges were filed. “I call it judicial procrastination,” Shafiq accused. After narrowly losing the election to President Mohamed Morsi, the Mubarak-era official immediately fled the country to live in the United Arab Emirates. On Thursday the court appointed Judge Mansour Moussa to investigate Shafiq’s claims that the elections were rigged. [Egypt Independent, 4/4/2013]


Ministry: 70% of bakeries nationwide have adopted new subsidies 
More than 12,000 local bread bakeries, or 70 percent of bakeries nationwide, have adopted the government’s new subsidies scheme, claimed Nassr al-Farrash, spokesperson for the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade. Twenty-four governorates have already adopted the new measures and work is also underway to implement them in Aswan, Matrouh and Suez. Subsidized bread currently sells for 5 piasters, and is a vital food commodity for the country’s lower- and middle-class citizens. [Egypt Independent, 4/4/2013]

Decline in foreign reserves continues 
Decline in foreign reserves at the Central Bank continued through March to lose about US$84 million, according to the bank’s website Thursday. Foreign exchange reserves reached last March $13.424 billion, which currently cover less than three months of goods’ imports. It had lost $105 million by the end of last February, the bank said. The Central Bank confirmed recently it did not receive financial assistance from friendly countries during February and March. [Egypt Independent, 4/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
Stock exchange sees modest gains Thursday despite upcoming protests | Egypt Independent


Egypt navy intercepts arms-laden ship from Israel: Security
The Navy impounded a speedboat with a Togolese flag and weapons and ammunition 12 nautical miles north of Sinai’s Ras Mohamed on Thursday, said Army spokesperson Ahmed Ali. He said the ship belonged to a company that secures maritime routes in the Red Sea, a haven of Somalia-based pirates. "The weapons and ammunition on this ship are related to its work and mission to secure commercial vessels," he said. The boat reportedly belonged to a private security service company. Local press reports had said two boats belonging to Ukrainian security companies were impounded, carrying 150 boxes full of weapons and ammunition. But al-Masry al-Youm quoted a military source on Thursday as saying that investigations are underway into the seven-man crew, which includes Ukrainians, Britons and Americans. The shipment included machine guns, shells and rockets, land mines, hand grenades and M-60 rifles. [AFP/Ahram Online, Reuters, Egypt Independent, 4/4/2013]


Grand Mufti warns attack on al-Azhar ‘undermines Egypt’s security’ 
Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawky Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam said on Thursday any attack on the al-Azhar Institution or its head, Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, "undermines Egypt’s security." Allam, who serves as the first elected Grand Mufti since early March, warned in a Thursday statement that any attempt to pull al-Azhar into a “political game" would come to no avail. He asserted, that al-Azhar "will always remain an institution dedicated to the nation at whole," in addition to standing "at equal footing from all political factions." al-Dostour Party condemned what it said was a plot by the Muslim Brotherhood to oust al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb and take over the institution. In a Thursday night statement the secular party said the Brotherhood had been attempting to “take over all state intuitions ever since its inception,” and that the group does not respect the law. [DNE, Ahram Online, Ahram (Arabic), 4/5/2013]

April 6 movement to mark 5th anniversary with ‘outcry’
The April 6 Youth Movement held a press conference on Thursday, calling for mass rallies on Saturday to mark the fifth anniversary of its inception and protest against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Unlike the past years, the group – which is believed to be among the first youth movements to stand up to former President Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian rule – has announced that the day will be marked by strong protests to express dissent against President Morsi’s Islamist-led regime, rather than by celebratory events. A number of opposition groups and anti-Brotherhood Facebook pages have also announced plans to participate in Saturday’s protest dubbed a “Day of Rage.”  The al-Dostour Party called on its members and the general public to take part in the activities planned for Saturday, while Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh’s Strong Egypt also announced it is participating in the marches. [Ahram Online, DNE, Shorouk (Arabic), 4/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
Al-Azhar dorm head arrested following Egypt food-poisoning scandal | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
Doctors continue to face troubles for siding with strike | DNE
Salafists to hold conference against ‘spread of Shia doctrine in Egypt’ | Ahram Online, EGYNews (Arabic)


Sudan road link to open soon, Egypt’s Morsi says
Direct road links between Egypt and Sudan will open soon, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said on Thursday, beginning a two-day visit which Khartoum has called "historic". Morsi’s first trip to the neighboring country, which Egypt jointly ruled with Britain until 1956, comes nearly a year after his election. He and his fellow Islamist, President Omar al-Bashir, said they both sought tighter economic links. During his visit to Khartoum Morsi also called for increased economic cooperation between Egypt and Sudan, calling on Egyptian businessmen in particular to boost their investments in the neighboring country. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, DNE, EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic), 4/4/2013]

EU worried about Egypt’s civil society proposals; EU foreign policy chief to visit Egypt Saturday 
The European Union’s envoy to Cairo urged Egypt’s Islamist-led authorities on Thursday not to rush through legislation on civil society and NGOs that could curb an embryonic democracy. The statements come before Catherine Ashton, European Union foreign policy chief, will arrive in Egypt on Saturday for a two-day visit. President Mohamed Morsi will meet with Ashton on Sunday, MENA reported European diplomatic sources as saying. [Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 4/4/2013]

Washington: Egypt formally complained over the US embassy’s tweet and we’re looking into it 
During a daily press briefing, US State Department Spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, said that the Egyptian government officially complained about the US embassy tweet sharing the Jon Stewart video criticizing President Mohamed Morsi. She noted that the complaint was made during a telephone conversation, and that the response from Washington was, “We’re looking into it.”  She also said that Egypt needs to take some steps in order to secure the IMF loan. “We’ve also been very clear that we support the renewed conversations between the IMF and Egypt, because we think that IMF support is urgently needed, but obviously, Egypt is going to have to take some steps.” [Al Masry al Youm (Arabic), Daily Press Briefing, 4/5/2013]

Photo: Muhammad Ghafari

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