Egypt: court rules parliamentary election process unconstitutional

The High Administrative Court of Egypt ruled Feb. 20 that the voting system used in the recent parliamentary election was unconstitutional. The election was held over three stages from late November to January, and its the elaborate voting system apportioned parliamentary seats between political parties and individuals, with two thirds of the seats going to political parties. Judge Magdy el-Agaty determined the ratio to be in violation of the constitution, that half of the seats should have been held for individuals. Additionally, Agaty stated that political parties should not have been permitted to field candidates for the seats reserved for individuals. During the elections the political parties reported haggled over how many candidates they would field for those seats. It is not clear whether the ruling will lead courts to invalidate the results of the elections, widely viewed as Egypt’s freest vote in decades. Agaty has referred parts of the election law to the Supreme Constitutional Court for a final judgment.

Egypt has been ruled by the military since the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak last February. The new parliament is supposed to name a 100-member council to draw up a constitution, paving the way for presidential elections, but the court’s ruling could mire that process and other parliament functions. Last month Human Rights Watch called on newly elected parliament to pursue an agenda to reform nine areas of Egyptian law that impede freedom and restrict rights. Meanwhile the prosecution in the case against Mubarak is seeking the death penalty for the former president, whose trial resumed in December in the Egyptian court after a two-month adjournment allowing the court time to rule on a motion made by lawyers representing the victims’ families to have the three-judge panel in the case removed. The defense is scheduled to give closing remarks this week, after which the judge will set the date to announce his verdict.

From Jurist, Feb. 22. Used with permission.

See our last posts on Egypt and the Arab revolutions.

  1. Egypt prosecutors order Mubarak back to prison
    Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ordered by the prosecutor’s office on April 17 to return to prison from the military hospital where he was staying after he appeared healthy at a hearing two days earlier. Also on April 17, a Cairo Court of Appeals announced that Mubarak’s retrial for complicity in the killing of protesters would begin on May 11. A retrial was ordered after Mubarak’s initial life in prison sentence was overturned in January. Mubarak was ordered to be released at the hearing, as he served the maximum two years in temporary detention, but was kept in custody on charges of fraud. The release of Mubarak was ordered after the judge set to preside over Mubarak’s retrial recused himself days earlier, further delaying the justice process and aggravating citizens who are already suspicious of the justice system.

    From Jurist, April 17. Used with permission.

  2. Mubarak gets three years for embezzlement

    An Egyptian criminal court in Cairo convicted former president Hosni Mubarak on May 21 of embezzling millions of dollars of public money. The court sentenced Mubarak to three years in prison. His sons, Gamal and Alaa, were sentenced to four years in prison for their role in the embezzling scheme. The three men were ordered by the court to pay $20 million in repayments and fines. According to prosecutors, over an eight-year period ending in 2011 Mubarak embezzled $17 million by billing personal expenses to the state-owned construction company, Arab Contractors, which was headed by Ibrahim Mehleb, the current prime minister. Moatassem Fathi, an investigator at the government's Administrative Oversight Authority, has alleged in court documents that the former chief corruption watchdog, Gen. Mohamed Farid el-Tohamy, and current chief of general intelligence deliberately suppressed inquiry into Mubarak and other top officials.

    From Jurist, May 21. Used with permission.