[ 2012-03-03 ]
Egypt MPs to probe allowing foreign activists go
CAIRO (AFP) - Egypt's parliament is to probe and
"hold accountable" anyone who intervened to allow
foreign activists on trial to leave the country,
the house speaker said on Saturday.
Saad al-Katatni said parliament would summon
officials to explain the decision and "hold
accountable those responsible for this crime,
which represented a blatant intervention in the
affairs of Egypt's judiciary."
He said parliament would summon Prime Minister
Kamal al-Ganzouri and other ministers to a special
session on March 11 to answer for the decision.
After months of pressure from Washington, about 15
of the foreign defendants including Americans were
allowed to fly out of Cairo airport on Thursday
after posting bail, sparking outrage in Egypt.
"We cannot accept any type of foreign intervention
in Egypt's affairs," Katatni, an Islamist, told a
joint session of parliament and the senate. "This
case cannot be ended with a political decision."
On Friday, Washington said it still wanted the
"We will continue to work with the Egyptian
government to see if we can get this case
dismissed, not only for our people but also for
the Egyptians, because we think this case was
unwarranted from the beginning," State Department
spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
The trial, in which the activists were accused of
receiving illicit foreign funds to operate
unlicensed NGOs, caused a crisis in relations
between the United States and its close Middle
Washington had suggested the trial could imperil
its more than one billion dollars in annual aid to
Egypt, much of it funnelled to the ruling military
which took power after an uprising ousted
president Hosni Mubarak a year ago.
Egyptian authorities had insisted they could not
intervene in judicial affairs, but the trial,
which opened last Sunday, began to unravel as the
judges stepped aside and a travel ban on the
defendants was lifted.
The foreigners were rushed through Cairo airport
on to a private plane after having each posted
bail of two million pounds (around $330,000 or
The official Al-Ahram newspaper said the judges
recused themselves after they were requested to
lift the travel ban, outraging Egyptians across
the political spectrum at alleged political
The Muslim Brotherhood, to whose FJP party Katatni
belongs, released a statement denying it was
involved in the case, after US Senator John McCain
said the Islamists played "a constructive role."
Mohamed ElBaradei, a former UN nuclear watchdog
chief and influential Egyptian dissident, wrote on
Twitter "now is the time for accountability and
A new panel of judges for the case is expected to
be announced on Saturday, but Cairo appeals court
head Abdel Moez Ibrahim has said a misdemeanor
court, which issues fines, may take over the
The defendants had been charged in a criminal
court under the penal code, which could have led
to jail sentences of up to five years.
According to the independent newspaper Al-Masry
Al-Youm, judges have been collecting signatures to
hold an assembly to strip Ibrahim of his powers.
Source - AFP
... go Back