By Heba Hesham
CAIRO: An Administrative Court adjourned Tuesday appeals related to the validity of three presidential nominees’ candidacy to an exceptional session Wednesday morning to submit the required documents.
Ultraconservative Islamist hopeful Hazem Salah Abu Ismail filed a lawsuit to oblige the interior ministry to provide documents proving his mother does not hold the US citizenship.
The Administrative Court at the State Council postponed Abu Ismail’s case as his defense required more time in order to modify their requests.
The Presidential Electoral Committee announced Thursday that it received a report from the Immigration and Nationality Authority stating that the deceased mother of Abu Ismail carried an American passport.
The statement added in its report to the PEC that Abu Ismail’s mother has used the passport three times to travel to and from Egypt in 2008 and 2009.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has also informed the committee that its American counterpart confirmed that the candidate’s mother held the US citizenship, the PEC said.
The law stipulates that presidential candidates provide documents to prove that they are born to Egyptian parents, do not hold another nationality and are not married to a non-Egyptian.
Legal representative of the state denied in Tuesday’s session that the Ministers of Interior or Foreign Affairs had issued any decision in this regard.
“The role of the interior ministry was only to inform the PEC that the claimant’s mother used a travel document and not a passport to enter and depart Egypt,” the government representative said.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs only transferred the documents provided by the US government to the PEC.”
Therefore, he added, the dispute is between Abu Ismail and the US government.
In his defense, Abu Ismail asked the court to document the statements of the government’s lawyer.
Abu Ismail’s lawyer, Gaber Nassar, said in his defense that Article 10 of the nationality law in Egypt stipulates that if an Egyptian citizen holds another nationality without informing Egyptian authorities, they have the right to neglect it and even to revoke the Egyptian citizenship.
“I am sure that Abu Ismail’s family was on the suspects list of the former regime. Why didn’t the government at that time take required procedures against her if she did that,” he said.
“Also, isn’t it possible that her name was confused with someone else’s name especially that her name is not uncommon in Egypt? This mean that there are suspicions about the information presented to the PEC.”
Mortada Mansour, the notorious lawyer and fellow presidential hopeful that joined Abu Ismail’s defense team, said that this case has legal and political sides.
“The legal side is that this decision means banning Abu Ismail from practicing his political rights and this is not allowed without a verdict,” he said. “Also the documents provided by the government cannot be considered as a proof on [his mother’s] dual nationality.”
As for the political side, he echoed the opinion of Abu Ismail’s supporters who protested in front of the State Council during the hearing.
“The United States doesn’t want Abu Ismail to become Egypt’s president,” he said.
Abu Ismail’s supporters who were in the courtroom saluted Mansour for his remarks, causing commotion in the room. As a result, the presiding judge gave Abu Ismail and his lawyers an hour break to agree on their final demands before ruling in the case.
The defense team comprised a number of legal experts including Mokhtar Noah, Nabil El-Wahsh and fellow presidential hopeful Khaled Aly. Noah is also part of presidential hopeful Abdel Moneim Abol Fotoh’s campaign.
The defense team requested that the case be adjourned to Wednesday to decide on their demands.
“As long as the interior ministry did not provide proof that Abu Ismail’s mother holds the American nationality, then the verdict will be in our favor,” El-Wahsh told the Islamist candidate’s supporters after the session.
Abu Ismail’s supporters gathered around him while leaving court chanting against the US.
The same judge adjourned another appeal by MP and presidential candidate Abu El-Ezz El-Hariry, who is contesting a political pardon given by the military council to Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate Khairat Al-Shater.
El-Hariry’s appeal was based on Article 56 of the Constitutional Declaration that states that a comprehensive pardon cannot be granted without a law legislated by the People’s Assembly.
The case was adjourned to Wednesday so Al-Shater’s lawyer can read the case file.
In theory, a conviction would disqualify a candidate. The Brotherhood leader was convicted under the Mubarak regime for what was believed to be politically motivated charges related to his work with the then-banned group.
The judge also postponed an appeal by head of Ghad El-Thawra Party and presidential hopeful Ayman Nour on a verdict issued earlier by an Administrative Court to exclude him from the race to presidency.
“The concerned entity should provide documents that prove that Nour had a pardon issued by a law or a restitution ruling,” the judge said.
The prior verdict said that Nour should be excluded from running for presidency and should be removed from the voters’ lists.
The presiding judge of the first case said anyone sentenced for a felony and has not been rehabilitated or granted a pardon issued by a law, cannot enjoy any political rights, even if he granted a presidential pardon.