Egypt charges journalists with slander

Three Egyptian journalists and a lawyer were charged with slander after they alleged fraud in last year’s parliamentary elections, judicial sources told AFP.

    Demonstrations over democratic reform have been repressed

    Wael al-Ibrashi and Hoda Abu Bakr, both journalists with the independent Sawt al-Umma weekly, were charged with slandering a local electoral commission chief and publishing the names of judges allegedly involved in fraud.

    Similar charges were brought against Abdel Hakim Abdel Hamid, the chief editor of Afaq Arabiya (Arab Horizons) - considered the Joumouthpiece of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood – and a lawyer close to the Islamist movement, Gamal Tag el-Din.

    The publications said they obtained the list of judges accused of being involved in rigging electoral results from the lawyers' syndicate, where the Muslim Brotherhood is well represented.

    Opposition movements and election observers cried foul after the November-December parliamentary polls, in which ruling National Democratic Party of the president, Hosni Mubarak, retained a firm grip on power.

    Two reformist members of the judges' syndicate, which is in charge of supervising elections, faced disciplinary action this month for alleging that some of their colleagues had helped rig the results.

    The judges, who have come to symbolise the drive for democratic reform in Egypt, were accused of bringing the judiciary into disrepute, and their summons sparked a wave of support from opposition groups. The demonstrations were repressed by police, drawing international condemnation.

    More demonstrations are scheduled on Thursday.

    One of the judges, Mahmoud Mekki, was acquitted, and the other, Hisham al-Bastawissi, was censured by the disciplinary tribunal.



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