Criminal Justice ECESR Press Releases Litigation

Criminal justice | Two Petitions to Military Prosecutor and Prosecutor-General for Searching Lawyer Inappropriately and Forbidding him from Attending Court Hearing

Non-commissioned officer (NCO) to the lawyer: “Instructions are more important than the law.”

Army colonel to the lawyer: “When an NCO orders you to take off your shoes, you have to obey the order. Like the mosque, you have to take off your shoes.”

This is a serious incident in the history of the judiciary in general, and the military courts in particular, not only because of the arbitrary manner in which a lawyer was searched inappropriately and contrary to the inspection procedures, but due to preventing him from attending the court hearing, where he was supposed to perform his duty and defend his client. This means putting the future of his client at risk and forbidding him from the right to defend himself.

Mokhtar Mohamed Mokhtar, a lawyer, submitted two petitions to the Military Prosecutor and Prosecutor-General against the personnel of the force responsible for securing the road of the second infantry regiment (Egypt-Ismailia Road) and the Colonel in charge Mohammed Abdel-Alim, who was responsible for securing the military court premises, where the court hearing in case No. 319/2014, Criminal northern military, was held. Mokhtar was going to attend on behalf of his client Malek Mustafa Adli, a lawyer at the Egyptian Center for Economic and social Rights, when this serious incident occurred. In response, he filed the above-mentioned petitions demanding the examination of his complaint.

In his petition, Mokhtar said that one of the personnel asked him to go through a number of procedures before entering the court, namely: 1) body-searching; 2) Leaving his mobile phone and everything related to it; 3) Leaving the ID card before entering. When he refused to be body-searched because it is considered a violation to the Procedural Law and the Code of Criminal Procedures, an NCO told him that, “If you refused to be body-searched, you wouldn’t be allowed to enter the court.” After talking to him in an attempt to draw his attention to the illegality of putting a lawyer under body-searching, the NCO admitted that instructions are more important than the law.

In spite of his submissiveness so that he could attend the court hearing, he was surprised that another checkpoint has been held at the court door, where Colonel Mohammed Abdel-Alim, the officer in charge of securing the court, accompanied by a military Major. To reiterate what happened before, an NCO ordered the lawyers to stand in two rows so that they could be body-searched. To make things worse, another NCO took his briefcase and tampered with its contents and ordered him to take off his shoes to be searched. When he protested, the Colonel replied, “What are you protesting at? You have to obey the orders and take off your shoes if you want to enter the court. The court is like the mosque.” Finally, he was forbidden to enter the court and perform his duty, according to his petition.

These are not the first violations taking place recently against lawyers, the circle of violations is widening to undermine the due process in Egypt, which is already at risk.