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March 4, 2016
Rights Lawyer and Director of the United Group law firm Negad al-Boraie said Thursday he was interrogated for three hours on six charges including managing an illegal organization. According to a statement issued by United Group Friday, Boraie has been charged with establishing an unlicensed entity with the intent of “inciting resistance to authorities, implementing human rights activities without a license, receiving funds from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), and deliberately spreading false information with the purpose of harming public order or public interest. ” According to United Group, this is the fourth time Boraie has been questioned in connection with a complaint filed after he proposed an anti-torture law to the president's office last June. Two judges, Assem Abdel Gabbar and Hisham Raouf, are also under investigation, accused of contributing to the drafting of the anti-torture law and participating in a workshop organized by United Group. The statement added that he was released to his residence pending investigation. [AMAY, DNE, 3/4/2016]

POLITICS


Cabinet may present program to parliament March 27
There is still no set date for the Egyptian cabinet to present its program to the parliament for approval, after conflicting statements from officials this week about the schedule of the key vote. On Wednesday, Speaker Ali Abdel-Al told the convened House of Representatives that if MPs manage to draft and vote on all parliamentary bylaws by next Monday, the cabinet would present its program later in the same week. On Thursday, however, Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Magdy al-Agaty said in statements to the press that the cabinet would present its program on March 19. Later on the same day, Agaty told the press that both Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Abdel-Al had agreed that the government would present its program on March 27. He added that the delay was due to Abdel-Al's participation in a parliamentary conference in Zambia from March 18 to March 22. [Ahram Online, 3/4/2016]

COURTS

Giza Criminal Court acquits White Knights Ultras founders
The Giza Criminal Court, headed by Judge Moataz Khafaji, decided Thursday acquitted Sayed Moshageb and Ayman Abdul Hamid of charges of the “illegal” establishment of the White Knights. The pair faced a number of additional charges, including calling to suspend the constitution, preventing state institutions from exercising their work, disturbing public security, and threatening social peace. The Ultras White Knights issued a statement on their Facebook page, accepting the court’s verdict and calling for a reinvestigation of the Air Defense massacre, in which 20 Zamalek football fans were killed. The statement called for the release of all Ultras White Knights fans accused of involvement in the massacre. [DNE, 3/3/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Morsi Qatar trial postponed to March 6 | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)

ECONOMY

Devaluation pressure mounts on Egypt as pounds weakens on black market
The Egyptian pound slipped to its weakest rate on the black market this week, raising pressure on the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to devalue the currency as firms complain of problems clearing imports and repatriating earnings. The CBE sold $38.8 million at a cut-off price of 7.7301 pounds to the dollar at its official auction on Thursday. However the black market rate weakened significantly, with traders quoting 9.50 pounds to the dollar against 9.30 to 9.34 on Tuesday. "There is a lot of demand to buy dollars but very little on offer. Those who have dollars are holding onto them and that is contributing significantly to the rapid leaps in price," said one black market trader. "We think the latest moves suggest that a long-awaited devaluation of the pound may be just around the corner," London-based Capital Economics said. Foreign reserves have also more than halved since January 2011, helping to prompt black market speculation against the pound. Egypt's net foreign reserves increased slightly to $16.53 billion at the end of February from $16.48 billion in January the Central Bank of Egypt said Thursday. [Reuters, 3/3/2016]

Also of Interest
  • German summer bookings for Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia drop 40 percent | Reuters
  • Egypt's stock market ends week in green | Ahram Online
  • Arab companies ask to build industrial city in northwest Gulf of Suez with $3 billion investments | DNE
  • Egypt's poorest struggle to find rice amid hoarding | Reuters
  • Business conditions deteriorate for fifth month in a row | Mada Masr
  • Egypt may stop sending inspectors abroad to clear imported wheat | Reuters

SOCIETY & MEDIA

Actress Mirhan Hussein accuses police of assault, harassment
Popular singer and actress Mirhan Hussein has accused police forces of assault and harassment after they pulled her over for allegedly driving under the influence on Tuesday. Hussein published a statement on Facebook after her release denying the drunk-driving charges and accusing the arresting officers of abuse. She also uploaded pictures showing bruising around her eyes, lips and on her legs, writing, “Share so the truth comes out.” A hospital Hussein went to after the assault released a report saying that she had bruising and abrasions on her arm and upper lip, and that there were abrasions on her genitalia, the privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper reported Wednesday. Ihab Bahar, an officer at the Haram Police Station, denies she was beaten. “I did not hit her and I don't know anything about her injuries. She is the one who did this to herself so that she could accuse us of hitting her,” he told Al-Shorouk. According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, the Actors Syndicate will file a report with the Prosecutor General for police misconduct. Syndicate head Ashraf Zaki said they will be pushing for the offenders to be charged with cruelty and indecent assault. [Mada Masr, 3/3/2016]

Detained Al-Badil journalist tortured says CPJ
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a statement Thursday calling for Egyptian authorities to charge or release Sabry Anwar, a journalist who is currently detained and allegedly faces torture in custody. Anwar, a journalist for the privately owned Al-Badil newspaper, was arrested at his home in Damietta more than ten days ago, according to his wife and employer. The journalist’s location is currently unknown. Anwar was missing for four days before his wife, Heba al-Khedry, was briefly able to locate and meet with him at the Kafr al-Bateekh police station. During their meeting, Anwar told her he had been tortured with electric shocks as police attempted to coerce him into confessing to crimes he did not commit. Following Khedry's meeting with Anwar, the head of investigations at the Kafr al-Bateekh police station denied he was in custody there, despite having told them earlier that Anwar was due to appear before prosecutors, CPJ reported. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 3/4/2016]

Doctors Syndicate says accountability condition for reconciliation with police
The Doctors' Syndicate expressed approval of what it called “appeasement attempts” by security authorities to reconcile with the doctors community provided that legal accountability is ensured for police personnel involved in reported assaults on medical workers in recent months. “Whoever commits a mistake should be punished so that that mistake is not repeated,” Mona Mina, General Secretary of the Doctors' Syndicate, said Thursday. Mina pointed to the detention of two police officers on charges of assaulting a doctor in Alexandria as a positive example. [AMAY, 3/4/2016]

Media initiative says 185 travel bans enforced since 2011
An Egyptian media initiative, Daftar Ahwal, announced that there have been 185 travel bans enforced in the period from February 11, 2011 to February 20, 2016. The group said that of the 185, 121 travel bans were enforced for political, religious, or rights reasons. Another 64 were banned from travel due to ongoing court cases, including members of former president Hosni Mubarak and former president Mohamed Morsi’s governments. The group also offered a breakdown of the cases saying that six occurred under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, four under Morsi, 58 under then interim president Adly Mansour, and 117 under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 3/4/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Incomplete quorum delays general assembly of Egypt's Journalists Syndicate | DNE, Ahram Online

INTERNATIONAL

Egypt Prime Minister meets with South African Tourism Minister
During a meeting on Thursday with South Africa’s Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom in Cairo, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail expressed Egypt’s keenness on boosting bilateral relations with African countries, particularly with South Africa. During a meeting attended by Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou, Ismail underlined the importance of tourism cooperation between the two countries. [SIS, 3/4/2016]

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