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October 13, 2012

Egypt's President Keeps Mahmoud as Prosecutor General

by VOA News

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has agreed to keep Egypt's prosecutor general in his post following a request from the Supreme Judicial Council.

Officials from the administration and the judiciary said Saturday the two had reached an agreement under which the state prosecutor would remain in his current office.

Ahead of the meeting, Prosecutor General Abdel Maguid Mahmoud defied the president's decision to remove him from office by entering his Cairo office surrounded by hundreds of judges and attorneys. Several Egyptians showed their support by gathering outside his office, with one woman holding up a sign that said, "Morsi must leave if the prosecutor general leaves."

On Friday, supporters of Morsi scuffled with opponents in Cairo's Tahrir Square in the worst violence since Egypt's new Islamist leader took office this year.  The health ministry said at least 12 people were wounded.  

Morsi removed his prosecutor general from office on Thursday after a court acquitted 24 loyalists of ousted President Hosni Mubarak on charges of organizing a brutal attack against protesters last year. Activists blamed Mahmoud of presenting weak evidence that resulted in the acquittals.

Nancy Okail, director of Freedom House's Egypt office in Cairo, told VOA the acquittals are causing "obvious dismay" for Morsi. But she says that does not give the president the legal authority to remove his prosecutor general.

"The president does not have the right to dismiss the public prosecutor or any legislative authority unless there is a crime or there is a low case against him. The public prosecutor can resign, but he cannot be dismissed," she said.

Morsi had initially tried to skirt the legal process by naming Mahmoud as the country's ambassador to the Vatican.