The Egyptian Court of Cassation ruled the sacking of former Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud and his replacement by Talaat Abdallah by President Mohamed Morsi illegal, state-run news agency MENA reported Tuesday.
State-owned daily newspaper Al-Ahram quoted judicial sources as saying Judge Hassan Yassin would take over the post in the interim, until a new prosecutor general is appointed. The same sources said Mahmoud refused to return to his job.
Ahmed al-Zend, head of the Judges’ Club, stressed during a press conference on Tuesday that they decided to postpone implementing the return of the prosecutor general to his position, given the current circumstances.
In an unprecedented move, President Mohamed Morsi had first removed Mahmoud from his post in October 2012, announcing to the media that he was given another post as ambassador to the Vatican. Mahmoud denied the news, deeming the move unconstitutional, since the president has no right to remove the prosecutor general, as an act of protection of the judiciary’s independence from executive power.
However, after Morsi retracted the decision, he issued in November a contentious constitutional declaration through which he ordered Mahmoud’s dismissal and his replacement by Abdallah. The declaration stirred nationwide unrest and a series of protests, as it paved the way for an Islamist-controlled Constitution and immunized all Morsi’s decisions from judicial oversight.
The Muslim Brotherhood had often accused Mahmoud of being a former regime figure. Meanwhile, Abdallah’s appointment was sternly rejected by the judiciary and the opposition, which accused him of bias towards the Islamist government and of using his position to prosecute opponents, while ignoring human rights abuses.
These accusations mounted immediately after his appointment, when Abdallah transferred the general prosecutor for East Cairo out of the capital in what was seen as retaliation against the latter’s order to release those arrested in the December clashes. These clashes started around the presidential palace between Brotherhood supporters and opponents, and 10 were killed.