Egyptian lawyers 'peaceful protest' marred by arrests

THIRTY-SEVEN Egyptian lawyers have been arrested, following the death in custody of Abd Madani, a well-known defence lawyer for Islamists.

Madani's detention began in April, although no specific charges were laid and he was not brought before any judicial authority.

During questioning by police he was rushed to the Qasr Aini Hospital and found to be suffering from serious injuries as a result of torture.

By 6 May, when Amnesty believed he was still in hospital, it learnt of his death.

Lawyers and doctors lodged a complaint calling for an independent autopsy. It has now been established that his death was not accidental and his family has filed a suit against the police.

On 17 May a large number of lawyers organised a peaceful march in response to Madani's death.

As they began to leave the Bar Association buildings for the presidential palace security forces allegedly fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets directly on to the Bar's buildings. Earlier that day 27 lawyers were arrested.

The following day the police arrested another nine prominent lawyers, all elected members of the Bar Association.

They were interrogated and charged with the offence of “planning to assemble.”

In June five more were detained.

At the moment 37 lawyers are under arrest.

Jo Richards is a barrister.