[JURIST] Egypt’s incumbent president Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] issued a decree on Thursday vastly expanding his powers. Pursuant to the decree, Morsi’s decisions are not subject to judicial review and he can reopen trials for officials from the government of deposed president Hosni Mubarak [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The decree also dismissed [Aljazeera report] Egypt’s prosecutor general, Abdel Majid Mahmoud. On Friday protests [BBC report] broke out in Cairo and several other cities throughout the country as a result of the decree. In Tahrir Square, thousands of protesters chanted “Mursi is Mubarak… revolution everywhere.” In Geneva, Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, said Morsi’s decree raises serious human rights concerns [Reuters report].
At the end of October, Egyptian Prosecutor-General Abdel Maguid Mahmoud ordered an investigation [JURIST report] into allegations of forgery during the recent presidential elections. The order came after former Egyptian prime minister Ahmed Shafiq alleged that ballots were forged and votes were bought by Morsi. Shafiq is one of the many former politicians under Mubarak’s regime who are facing corruption charges. In August the former secretary for Mubarak’s political party, Safwat El-Sherif, was referred to a criminal court [JURIST report] on corruption charges. He was accused of having abused his office by obtaining real estate at discounted prices and illegally obtaining $49.2 million. In July an Egyptian court rejected pleas to release [JURIST report] Mubarak’s two sons while they await trial. Gamal and Alaa Mubarak, along with seven others, were charged [JURIST report] with stock market fraud and using unfair trading practices and illegally manipulating the market. In June Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life [JURIST report] after an Egyptian court found him guilty of complicity to kill protesters during the Arab Spring protests [JURIST backgrounder]. During the protests that resulted in the overturning of Mubarak’s 30-year regime, Mubarak ordered government officials to use gunfire and other violent measures to subdue protesters, causing more than 840 deaths [JURIST report]. Mubarak’s trial ended [JURIST report] in February with the chief prosecutor asking the court in his closing remarks to issue a death sentence against the former ruler.