Cairo: 31 July 2019

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) expressed its deep concern over the sentencing of lawyer “Ali Taha” to two years in prison with hard labor on Monday, 29 July, pending case No. 50 of 2019; against the backdrop of some remarks he made in his pleading in one of the cases before being questioned about it, in violation of the Lawyers’ Act and the Penal Code which prohibit the punishment of lawyers for what they include in their legal defense whether it is oral or written.

While giving his legal defense to his client Counselor Hisham Genina in case No. 12601 of 2014 Dokki Misdemeanors, lawyer Ali Taha was staggered at the litigant’s lawyer “Counselor Ahmed Al-Zend” asking the court to prove some of the words used by Mr. Ali Taha in his pleading in the case. Al-Zend’s lawyer also requested from the court to issue a memorandum of the content or the text of Taha’s pleading and to refer him to the competent prosecution to investigate the matter, which Al-Zend’s lawyer considered as “an act of defamation”. But the court rejected the lawyer’s request pursuant to the law that guarantees protection for lawyers while making their pleadings. Nevertheless, Al-Zend’s lawyer extracted an official copy of the court hearing’s transcript and filed a communiqué (complaint) before Al-Sayeida Zeinab Prosecution accusing lawyer Ali Taha of insulting and slandering his client Ahmed Al-Zend, former Minister of Justice, and others during his pleading in case No. 12601 of 2014. In contravention of the law, the Prosecution accepted the complaint, and in July 2019, Ali Taha was sentenced to two years in prison with hard labor on a charge of insulting and defaming Counselors Ahmed Al-Zend, Abdallah Fathy and Aktham Baghdadi.

The ruling contravenes Article 47 of the Lawyers’ Law, which provides that it is not permissible for a litigant to sue a lawyer for anything that may be mentioned in his legal defense memorandum or in his pleading. It also constitutes a violation of Article 309 of the Penal Code, which states that in case of infringement or offence, it is not admissible to prosecute or try any of litigants except before a civil or disciplinary court.

ANHRI said: “The whole case and the violations it involved raise concerns about the future work of lawyers and the waste of guarantees ensured for them by the law. The case, as well, opens the door for nitpicking against lawyers in what they may include in their legal defense and pleadings. Such a matter requires that the Lawyers’ Syndicate takes a strict stance, so that fear does not spread among lawyers and citizens don’t lose trust  in the Bar Association and the entire justice apparatus.”