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Police assault on lawyers sparks 4-day general assembly at Marsa Matrouh syndicate branch

An assault on six lawyers at a police station in Marsa Matrouh has sparked outrage among fellow lawyers, who have held an ongoing general assembly for the last four days to demand disciplinary action against the police officers.

Three police officers, including the police station chief and his deputy, assaulted the six lawyers, leaving one with a fractured shoulder and torn tendons, lawyers involved in both the incident and the response to it have told Mada Masr.

In response, dozens of lawyers gathered in protest outside the police station on Thursday morning, later moving to hold a general assembly at the local branch office of the lawyers’ professional association. The assembly has swelled to include more than 150 lawyers and was ongoing as of Sunday, with lawyers demanding the president and other senior government figures intervene to ensure police personnel face accountability.

Lawyer Hossam Nassef told Mada Masr that he was assaulted at around 11:00 pm on Wednesday after the station was hit by a power outage. Work continued, with lawyers and visitors to the station using their mobile phones to provide lighting, according to Nassef, until the station chief came and ordered everyone out of the building.

A dispute between lawyers and the station chief over protocol ensued. The police chief responded angrily, ordering police personnel at the station to expel the lawyers from the building. Around 16 police officers pushed the lawyers from the front of the chief’s office to the stairs leading to the exit, added Nassef.

“Suddenly, the deputy chief was pushing me down the stairs, and I fell on my left shoulder. While pushing me, he also lost his balance,” Nassef said, adding that the police officer then redoubled his assault until his colleagues intervened to stop him.

After the news of the incident spread, dozens of lawyers gathered in front of the police station on Thursday morning to protest the incident, calling for the three police personnel responsible to be held accountable and for the station chief to be transferred to an alternative post outside Marsa Matrouh.

The deputy director of Marsa Matrouh Security Directorate met with protesting lawyers outside the station with a proposal to settle the issue. The lawyers conditionally accepted his offer, provided he follow through with his promise that the chief, his deputy, and security personnel involved in the assault would face discipline, Saleh Attiya, a member of Marsa Matrouh Lawyers Syndicate’s board, told Mada Masr.

The lawyers then moved to the offices of the Matrouh syndicate branch, where more than 150 lawyers intend to remain until justice is served, Attiya added.

According to Attiya, the Matrouh Police Station chief has a history of infractions against lawyers. But despite the security directorate’s promises, the police station chief has continued work as normal.

The Matrouh Lawyers Syndicate is now calling for the president, the interior minister, and the public prosecutor to transfer the senior police officer to another station outside the governorate, citing “his habitual abuse of citizens and lawyers,” according to lawyers who spoke to Mada Masr.

The six lawyers assaulted in the police station also filed an official complaint to the governorate’s branch of the public prosecution on Thursday. The prosecution has yet to act on the complaint, Nassef told Mada Masr.

Another three lawyers from the board of the national Lawyers Syndicate also filed an official complaint on Saturday to the public prosecutor against the police chief, his deputy and security personnel involved in the assault, accusing them of slander and physical assault against the six lawyers.

According to Marsa Matrouh Lawyers Syndicate member Muhammed Abdel Azim Karkab, Alexandria’s Forensic Medicine Authority has examined Nassef and is set to finalize its reports in the next 24 hours for presentation to the Public Prosecution.

On Friday and Saturday, the Matrouh branch of the syndicate issued two statements, of which Mada Masr obtained copies, in which lawyers affirmed that they will stay at the syndicate’s office until they “secure justice for their colleagues.” The syndicate also called on national Lawyers Syndicate head Ragaai Attiya to convey their demands that the police chief be transferred out of Marsa Matrouh to the political leadership, the interior minister, and the public prosecutor.

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