Egyptian lawyer demands China pay $10 trillion in coronavirus damages

Mohamed Talaat
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Updated 07 April 2020

Egyptian lawyer demands China pay $10 trillion in coronavirus damages

  • Mohamed Talaat urges El-Sisi to take up the case and to form a committee to help take the issue to highest authorities

CAIRO: Social media users in Egypt have shared an injunction issued by an Egyptian lawyer to Chinese President Xi Jinping calling on China to pay $10 trillion due to the damages caused by the coronavirus in Egypt.

Egyptian lawyer Mohamed Talaat based his move on US President Donald Trump’s comments that the virus originated in China, with the US president several times calling it the “Chinese virus.” Talaat also relied on media sources, which he did not name, that said China had produced the virus as a biological weapon.
As of Sunday, Egypt had registered 1,173 cases of coronavirus with 78 deaths.
Speaking to Arab News, Talaat said that the reason he was taking legal action against China was to safeguard Egyptian rights, especially after news agencies and Trump announced that COVID-19 was “Chinese made.”
Talaat, who lives in the Gharbeya governorate south of Cairo and who is filing the lawsuit via the Chinese embassy in Cairo, was driven by allegations by an American lawyer to file a case against Beijing’s government demanding that it pay $20 trillion in compensation for damage caused by the virus.
Press reports circulated last week that US lawyer Larry Klayman slapped a lawsuit fining China $20 trillion, accusing Beijing of developing and spreading the coronavirus to use it as a biological weapon. The reports were published on the website Freedom Watch, a human rights organization chaired by Klayman.
Talaat said that he urged Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on social media to take up the case and to form a committee of international law experts who would help take the issue to the highest authorities.
Talaat reportedly has not coordinated with anyone in government. He said that Egypt’s government “doesn’t interfere in judicial issues and maintains a neutral stance.” Regarding reaction to his move, he said that there were supporters and detractors, adding there were some people dealing with the issue “too lightly and sarcastically.”
He rejected comments made by a Kuwaiti journalist who described the step as “Egyptians pursuing dollars.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Mohamed Talaat based his move on US President Donald Trump’s comments that the virus originated in China, with the US president several times calling it the ‘Chinese virus.’

• Speaking to Arab News, Talaat said that the reason he was taking legal action against Beijing was to safeguard Egyptian rights.

• Reports circulated last week that US lawyer Larry Klayman slapped a lawsuit fining China $20 trillion.

“I want to ask why he didn’t attack the United States or the lawyer who filed a case against China in the US? Is it just because I’m an Egyptian lawyer?” Talaat asked.
“Egyptians are filing a court case against China’s president calling on him to pay $10 trillion due to the coronavirus and the suspension of Egyptian flights!” the journalist tweeted on his Twitter account. “The world is looking for a cure for the virus and there are those who are looking for dollars!” He attached the Egyptian lawsuit to his tweet.
Talaat claimed that a number of Italian citizens have phoned to coordinate with him “for the sake of the Italian government.”
“If further communication takes place, I will definitely inform the Egyptian government with regards to the details and names to prevent exploiting the case,” Talaat said.
Talaat added that the suspension of flights to and from Egypt prevented him from traveling to take more serious action. He said in his statement that “when things return to normal and flights resume, I will be able to fly anywhere in the world to promote my case, and legally pursue the Chinese government.”
“What I did was the first step in what is coming,” Talaat said, referring to why he did not address Egypt’s public prosecutor. “We as Egyptians have rights. The president of the world’s biggest country confirmed the issue. America is suffering huge fatalities which did not happen in all the wars it waged.”
For several years, many Egyptian lawyers have added their names to lawsuits in public relations stunts that stir controversy, hoping for fame and TV interviews. However, some of these cases have gone to court.


Lebanese MPs fail to reach agreement on draft amnesty law

Updated 6 min 53 sec ago

Lebanese MPs fail to reach agreement on draft amnesty law

  • The Free Patriotic Movement tried to amend the law by excluding “perpetrators of crimes against public funds and terrorist crimes” from the amnesty

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Parliament on Thursday failed to approve a draft law on general amnesty, after tensions rose during a vote and the Future Movement, led by former prime minister Saad Hariri, walked out of the legislative session.

“They want to bring us back to square one,” he said. “Every party has its own arguments, as if they want to score points.”

The Free Patriotic Movement tried to amend the law by excluding “perpetrators of crimes against public funds and terrorist crimes” from the amnesty. Minister of Justice Marie Claude Najm, who is affiliated with the FPM, asked for “amendments to the draft law so that it does not include those accused of tax evasion and violating maritime property.”

The draft law was referred to the parliament despite disagreements between parliamentary committees over the basic issue of who should and should not be included in the amnesty. The former government, led by Hariri, proposed a general amnesty law before it resigned last October in the face of mounting pressure resulting from public protests.

There were a number of protests during the legislative session, some opposing the adoption of the law entirely, while others were directed at specific provisions within it.

The draft law includes an amnesty for about 1,200 Sunni convicts, 700 of whom are Lebanese. Some are accused of killing soldiers in the Lebanese Army, possessing, transporting or using explosives, kidnap and participating in bombings.

It was also covers about 6,000 Lebanese Christians, most of whom fled to Israel following the withdrawal of occupying Israeli soldiers from southern Lebanon in 2000, as well as nearly 30,000 people from the Bekaa region, the majority of whom are from the Shiite community and wanted for drug trafficking, drug abuse, murder, kidnap, robbery and other crimes.

Hezbollah appeared to agree to a pardon for entering Israel, but object to a pardon for anyone who worked or communicated with the enemy or acquired Israeli citizenship.

Before the session, the Lebanese Order of Physicians highlighted overcrowding in Lebanese prisons, and this health risk this poses during COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are 20 prisons for men, four for women and one juvenile prison holding a total of 8,300 inmates, 57 percent of whom are in the Roumieh Central Prison,” the LOP said. It added that 57 percent of prisoners are Lebanese and 23 percent are Syrian, one third have been convicted while the rest are awaiting trial, and the overcrowding is so bad each prisoner has the equivalent of only one square meter of space. The organization described the situation as “a time bomb that must be avoided.”

In other business during the session, as part of anticorruption reforms required as a condition for receiving international economic aid, the Parliament approved a law to increase transparency in the banking sector, with responsibility for this resting with the Investigation Authority of the Lebanese Central Bank and the Anti-Corruption Commission.

It also endorsed a draft law to create a mechanism for top-level appointments in public administrations, centers and institutions. An amendment was added to prevent ministers from changing or adding candidates for the position of director general. The FPM opposed this, while Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces voted in favor. Hariri accused the FPM of having a “desire to possess the entire country.”

MPs rejected a draft law to allow Lebanon to join the International Organization for Migration because, said MP Gebran Bassil, “it’s unconstitutional and facilitates the accession, integration and settlement process.” Lebanon hosts about 200,000 Palestinian and a million Syrian refugees.

The session sparked a wave of street protests. Some of them, led by the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and the Lebanese Communist Party, opposed the approval of a general amnesty that includes those who fled to Israel.

Protesters burned the Israeli flag in Sidon in protest against a law that “affects Israeli agents who sold their land, fought their people, and plotted against them.” They set up a symbolic gallows on which they wrote: “This is the fate of Zionist agents who fled execution.”

Others, including the families of Muslim detainees, staged demonstrations in support of the amnesty.