19 December 2012

Egypt: Justice Ministry - Violations Committed in 1st Round of Referendum to Be Investigated

Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekki has asked Egypt's seven Courts of Appeal all over the Republic to deputize a judge for investigating crimes and violations which were committed in each court competence during the first round of the referendum in the draft constitution.

The letter addressed by the Minister of Justice to the Presidents of the Courts of Appeal was accompanied by CDs including photographs and reports on irregularities which shrouded the first round of the referendum.

The spokesman for the Justice Ministry Counselor Ahmed Rushdy Sallam told a press conference on Tuesday 18/12/2012 that the High Elections Commission (HEC) is legally responsible for the voting process, adding the ministry has no role at all in this process.

He said the public prosecution and interrogating judges are responsible for investigating any criminal crimes which were committed during the voting.

Sallam said following reports carried by some media on criminal crimes that were committed during voting, Mekki concluded that he should use his powers as provided in law and asked the Courts of Appeal to second interrogation judges to investigate these complaints whether they were related to assigning non judges to preside over some poll stations or reports attributed by some quarters to the Minister of Justice himself.

Mekki said he was prepared to stand before the interrogating judge to make his testimony or even to be questioned.

Sallam said this is the first time in Egypt's history to undertake criminal interrogation into irregularities which were reported during the voting process.

The spokesman said these complaints included things that could undercut the reputation of Egypt's judges who are highly appreciated not only in the Arab world, but also all over the world.

The spokesman said some reports indicated that some poll stations were headed by non members of the judicial bodies and this raised doubts over the honesty and efficiency of the HEC.

Some reports also spoke about rigging voting results by the heads of some poll stations and judges who premeditatedly hindered the voting process in some constitutions or there who influenced voters to vote in certain direction.

Some reports spoke about interference by the Minister of Justice in the work of the HEC to the extent that he had threatened some judges or forced them to behave in a certain manner.

Other reports said some heads of poll stations were belonging to a certain political faction. The spokesman said deepening confidence in the judiciary and judges and in elections fairness are the main pillars of a good governance and a condition for maintaining the homeland security and stability.

He said the formation of an interrogation commission came in response to requests by some NGOs representatives, adding this is the first time in which the government holds an interrogation for investigating rigging votes adding this would testify the government keenness to maintain the fairness of elections and the keenness of the minister to preserver the reputation of the homeland and its judges.

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