Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptians ‘living in the past,’ lack trust: judge

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Muslim Brotherhood members are afraid of going back to prison, while the Egyptian people are afraid of the return of repression, said judge Zaghloul al-Balshi, deputy justice minister for judicial inspection, and former secretary general of the Higher Committee for the Constitution Referendum.

“Both parties are living in the past, and neither trusts the other,” he told Al Arabiya’s Special Interview, to be aired Thursday 23:30 GMT and Friday 07:30 and 23:30 GMT.

“We, as judges, are trying to give them the reassurance they need.”

Balshi said he could not tell how long the people’s feelings of insecurity would last, and blamed the main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front, for not providing the necessary reassurances.

“Egypt isn’t only Tahrir Square. Members of the Front need to go to villages and other governorates, and organize conferences to reassure the Egyptian people. They leave the stage for the Muslim Brotherhood, then lay the blame on it later.”

The Egyptian judiciary is in “chaos” due to “the suspension of work at courts,” the “siege of the prosecutor general,” the “siege of the Supreme Constitutional Court,” and “the slogans against it,” Balshi said.

This is unacceptable because it puts pressure on judges, some of whom have asked for cases to be postponed, or to leave cases altogether, he added.

“However, the judiciary is still intact and is doing its job, despite all the harsh conditions it’s facing.”

Balshi attributed divisions in the judiciary to past mistakes, such as dismissing former Prosecutor General Abdel Miguid Mahmoud, and reducing the number of judges in the Supreme Constitutional Court.

“This was supposed to be a transitional stage. Judges at the Supreme Constitutional Court should’ve been allowed to continue working until retirement age without appointing new ones, so that the number remains as stipulated in the new constitution.”

When asked if the judiciary is loyal to the former regime and needs to be “purged,” Balshi said it rather needs to be “developed.”

He added: “Throughout its history, the Egyptian judiciary has never been subordinate to any regime, and it stood against late President Gamal Abdel Nasser. At the time, Nasser resorted to exceptional courts, and regardless of whether we agree or disagree with Nasser, we have to admit that what he did was a grave mistake.”

There are attempts, Balshi added, to repeat the same mistakes now, “but the Egyptian judiciary will be very firm with anyone who tries to undermine its independence. Judges shouldn’t be politicized, and can’t belong to any party.”

The violations that took place during the referendum on the constitution do not nullify its results, he said.

“Several problems did happen during the referendum, like overcrowding and the way it drove many people to leave polling stations without voting.”

Balshi urged that such mistakes be avoided in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

“The number of voters for each polling station shouldn’t exceed 2,000 or 2,500 at most. I hope this is part of the reason why the elections will be held in four stages.”

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