Egypt’s top prosecutor has retracted his resignation, a decision that could cause a new uproar in the country after he was accused of pressuring a judge not to release protesters opposed to President Mohammed Morsi.
The prosecutor, Talaat Abdullah, who was appointed by President Mohammed Morsi, told reporters he resigned on Monday “under pressure” and amid “abnormal circumstances” with prosecutors holding a sit-in in front of his office.
The protesting prosecutors accused Abdullah of pressuring a judge not to release some 130 anti-Morsi protesters taken into custody earlier this month.
The judge had been investigating the December 5 clashes between members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group and anti-Morsi protesters – one of the tensest moments Egypt has seen in recent weeks.
At least 10 people died in clashes that day.
Morsi alleged that some of those detained during the clashes had confessed they were paid to attack his supporters, a charge the investigating judge refuted.
Abdullah’s appointment was part of Morsi’s highly controversial November 22 decrees, under which he gave himself immunity from judicial oversight.
The decree was aimed at preventing the courts from disbanding the Islamist-dominated assembly drafting Egypt’s new constitution, which is now being voted on in the referendum.
Morsi eventually rescinded the decrees, but only after the constituent assembly rushed in a marathon session to finalise the draft constitution.
They did so despite the withdrawals of liberal representatives and Christians from the panel protesting clauses and articles they claim will turn Egypt into an Islamist state.
The decisions plunged the country into turmoil, split political forces into two camps – Islamists and their opponents – and sparked street protests by hundreds of thousands of the opposition and members of judiciary.
The crisis intensified when Morsi put the draft constitution to a vote, despite protests. The opposition, united under the National Salvation Front umbrella group, called for a “no” vote.
The first round drew an unexpectedly low turnout of about 32 percent and was boycotted by most judges who traditionally monitor the voting.
Rights groups said there were numerous violations. Unofficial results from the first of two votes showed that 56 percent voted “yes” for the constitution. The second round of voting is set for Saturday.