Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, Egypt’s prosecutor-general, has rejected a move by President Mohamed Morsi to remove him from his post, a day after all 24 defendants in the Cairo “Camel Battle” case were acquitted, state media has reported.
Mahmoud told Egyptian state media on Thursday that he would remain in post, saying that Morsi’ move to remove him was beyond the mandate of the president’s powers.
“I remain in my post,” Mahmoud said. “According to the law, a judicial body cannot be dismissed by an executive authority.”
Hours earlier, Morsi’s office announced that he had removed Mahmoud from his post and reassigned him as the country’s ambassador to the Vatican. The state broadcaster said the transfer had been made by presidential decree.
Mahmoud was considered to be a remnant of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
On February 2, 2011, pro-Mubarak forces riding camels and horses, charged into the crowd in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The “Camel Battle” became a symbol of the revolution and Mubarak’s efforts to suppress it.
The ruling on Wednesday sparked anger across the country, and Mahmoud was blamed for presenting a weak case to the court.
A presidential spokesperson told Al Jazeera that the decision to reassign Mahmoud was in direct response to the demands of the Egyptian people.
He also said that a fact-finding commission set up by President Morsi earlier in the year would shortly be releasing “more facts and new evidence” that would lead to new cases against additional defendants and retrials.
Protests in Cairo
Earlier on Thursday, hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Cairo against the acquittal of the Mubarak-era officials.
The protesters chanted slogans against the verdict, accusing the judges of “complicity” with the leaders of the former regime. “The people want to purify justice,” they shouted.
The Youth Movement of April 6, which were the first to protest against Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood, had called for demonstrations on Thursday and Friday, demanding that the accused in this case be “retried.”
Various political parties and groups also have called for demonstrations on Friday against the country’s Constituent Assembly, to demand that a more representative body be formed and justice be done for protesters killed or tortured last year.
Almost 850 people were killed in the 18 days of popular protests that led to Mubarak’s ouster on February 11 last year.
Mubarak and his interior minister Habib al-Adly were both jailed for life for their role in ordering the killings but, to the fury of activists, six top security chiefs who stood trial with them were acquitted.
A number of police accused of the murder of protesters have also been acquitted, raising fears of general impunity for the security forces.