Egyptian bar chief Ragaei Attia died in court on Saturday while defending nine lawyers accused in 2015 of protesting and using force against public officials.
Ragaei was 84 when he suffered a heart attack at Giza South Court.
The Giza Criminal Court later acquitted three of the lawyers and issued suspended prison sentences for the other six.
One of the lawyers was jailed in 2015 after commenting on a judge’s decision.
Following his arrest, members of the Giza Bar Association attempted to intervene on their colleague’s behalf, but instead of listening, the North Giza prosecution referred nine lawyers to the Criminal Court.
They were charged with obstruction, violence against officials, theft of court books and preventing lawyers from doing their work.
On February 9, the North Giza Bar Association called on its members to stop paying court fees in all courts in North Giza in protest at the decision to fire the nine lawyers.
More than 100 lawyers took part in a silent protest outside the Giza North Court.
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Human rights defenders said Sisi’s government is arresting lawyers to intimidate them into covering political cases so that opponents of the government have no one to defend them.
Earlier this year, Egypt’s largest human rights organization, the Arab Network for Human Rights, made up of a team of lawyers and activists, closed its doors after being arrested, intimidated and physically assaulted by security forces.
Hoda Abdel Moneim, a lawyer and former member of the official National Human Rights Council, was arrested in November 2018 after security forces destroyed her house.
The director of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, lawyer Ezzat Ghoneim, has been detained since September 2018.
Lawyer Ahmed Helmy was arrested last year after prosecutors blocked his client Takwa Nasser from being released and brought new charges against her, accusing her of forming a cell inside the prison through which she allegedly communicated with members of the Muslim Brotherhood abroad.
Helmy appealed to the judge and in response he accused Helmy of insulting the prosecution and when he didn’t the judge ordered that he be detained for 24 hours. He was eventually released.
Human rights lawyer Mohamed Al-Baqer was forcibly disappeared in December 2020 after taking part in an investigation into his client Alaa Abdul Fattah, the prominent Egyptian blogger arrested in connection with the September 2019 protests.
Ragaei’s death in court echoes that of the late President Mohamed Morsi who collapsed in June 2019 during his trial and later died in hospital.