Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi sacked Thursday prosecutor general Abdul Meguid Mahmoud, state television said, a day after a court acquitted stalwarts of the old regime of organizing an attack on protesters during last year’s uprising.
The state broadcaster said that Mursi issued a presidential “decree appointing prosecutor general Abdel Meguid Mahmud as Egypt's envoy to the Vatican.”
However, Egypt’s official news agency said Mahmoud refused the presidential order and that he will remain in his post in defiance of President Mursi.
Mursi’s order to dismiss Mahmoud exceeds his mandate. The law protects the prosecutor general from being fired by the president, according to The Associated Press.
Mahmoud was considered to be a remnant of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s old regime and the decision comes a day after 24 people were acquitted by a Cairo court of organizing a notorious camel-borne assault on protesters last year.
Activists who played a central role in the protests that ousted Mubarak say that Mahmud was responsible for “weak evidence” provided by the prosecution in the case and is an old regime loyalist.
Earlier Thursday hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Cairo against the acquittal of the Mubarak-era officials.
The protesters chanted slogans against the verdict, accusing the judges of “complicity” with the leaders of the former regime. “The people want to purify justice,” they shouted.
The Youth Movement of April 6, which were the first to protest against Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood, had called for demonstrations on Thursday and Friday, demanding that the accused in this case be “retried.”
Various political parties and groups also have called for demonstrations on Friday against the country’s Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly, to demand that a more representative body be formed and justice be done for protesters killed or tortured last year.
Almost 850 people were killed in the 18 days of popular protests that led to Mubarak's ouster on February 11 last year.
Mubarak and his interior minister Habib al-Adly were both jailed for life for their role in ordering the killings but, to the fury of activists, six top security chiefs who stood trial with them were acquitted.
A number of police accused of the murder of protesters have also been acquitted, raising fears of general impunity for the security forces.