Over the past week, one lawyer and two of his clients were shot dead by police and another lawyer was arrested and charged in a case he was formerly working on as a defense attorney.
Lawyer Ahmed Hassan was killed by police on Friday in the Belbeis area of the Sharqiya Governorate as he met with two of his clients.
Police claim that the three men were armed and fired upon security forces, who arrived at the scene with an arrest warrant for one of the clients. But the Lawyers Syndicate, which has formed a committee to investigate the incident, refutes these allegations, citing eyewitness testimonies and other evidence, with one board member telling Mada Masr that Hassan was “executed” by police.
In a statement issued on Friday evening, the Interior Ministry describes the three men as “highly dangerous criminal elements wanted in several cases of armed robbery, murder and kidnapping.”
According to the police, security forces were deployed to the area on Friday to arrest a defendant they referred to as Mahmoud S. A., an unemployed 28-year-old they claim was accused of involvement in several armed robberies and sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia. The Interior Ministry statement alleges that security forces came under fire from Mahmoud and “his two accomplices” when they arrived to arrest him. Police returned fire, according to the statement, killing Mahmoud and the two other men, 18-year-old Ramy M. M. and lawyer Hassan.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Lawyers Syndicate head Sameh Ashour says that Hassan, who was a registered lawyer with the syndicate, was killed along with two of his clients while they were standing together completing the sale of a plot of land in Bilbeis.
The council board confirmed that the lawyer did not have a weapon on him, the statement says, adding that Hassan had no motive to carry one.
The syndicate head has set up a committee to follow up on the prosecution’s investigation into the incident, lawyer Magdy Abdel Halim, a syndicate board member, explains.
Mohamed Abdel Azim Karkab, another syndicate board member, tells Mada Masr that he accompanied a team of syndicate members to the area to monitor the investigation conducted by the prosecution and to hear witness testimonies and view forensic evidence.
The prosecution team heard the account of a stationary shop owner close to the scene, Karkab says, who claimed that Hassan had come into his store just minutes before the attack to purchase land-sale contracts and a stamp. Meanwhile, the owner of a welding shop near the scene of the attack said the three men were not carrying any weapons and did not open fire on the police.
After attending the prosecution’s initial investigation, which lasted 18 hours, Karkab attests that it was clear the police had “executed” Hassan and his two clients.
The Bilbeis Prosecution is still investigating the incident, he adds, and is currently waiting for the autopsy results and a criminal report. But the committee formed to follow up the investigation has filed a request to the prosecution to demand that it not rely on the police investigations unit due to its lack of impartiality, given that the head of the unit was the commander of the security forces that shot the victims.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, a lawyer representing a client in a case was arrested several days ago only to turn up inside the defendants cage in court on Sunday as one of the accused.
Mohsen Sayed Qarni was arrested by plainclothes security forces approximately six days ago and is currently being held at the Helwan Police Station, according to his colleague Alaa Alam Eddin, a fellow member of the defense team in the case.
Case 4459/2015 is being tried by the South Helwan Criminal Court and includes over 200 defendants on trial for allegedly belonging to the Helwan Brigades, a Cairo-based militant group, including Mohamed Mahmoud Mohamed, the defendant Qarni was representing in the case.
Alam Eddin tells Mada Masr that the arrest is a case of mistaken identity and that police forces mistook Qarni for another defendant named in the investigation report, Mohsen Sayed Makhlouf.
Lawyers asked the court to inquire with the Civil Registry about the name and to call on National Security officers who conducted the investigation to verify whom they intended to charge, Alam Eddin says. However, he adds that the court chose to call for the investigation report in the case, rather than summoning and questioning the officers themselves.
During Sunday’s court session, Alam Eddin states that the prosecutor read out an indictment against Qarni, to which Alam Eddin objected. The prosecutor then demanded that the charges defendants in the case face be applied to Qarni, including accusations of participating in an illegal gathering for a terrorist purpose and attempting to kill a number of policemen.
On Monday, the court decided to postpone the case until December 12 to inquire about Qarni’s case, according to Al-Shorouk newspaper.
The case dates back to June 14, 2014 when several separate prosecutors’ offices began to investigate a series of incidents involving electricity cuts, murder, burglary of villas and attacks on security forces, before National Security combined all these incidents into a single case, according to Emad Mubarak, one of the defense lawyers in the case.
The defendants in the case face a range of charges, including leading an illegal armed group, obstructing the work of state institutions, threatening national security, attempted murder of security forces, destruction of public property, violating the rights and freedoms of citizens and the use of force against public officials.