Egypt's President Morsi pledged on Friday to bring to justice Mubarak-era officials, a day after his bid to sack the top prosecutor infuriated a judiciary wary of its new Islamist leader.
"We will never ignore those who committed crimes against the nation and corrupted it," he said in a speech at a mosque in the coastal city of Alexandria.
"They will be dealt with by the judiciary and legal system," he said in the speech as reported by the official news agency MENA.
An influential group of Egyptian judges Friday has backed the prosecutor's refusal to resign.
The disagreement has revived a power struggle between the Islamist leader and the judiciary, which comprises judges appointed under the regime of ousted former president Hosni Mubarak.
Abdel Maguid Mahmud refused to quit on Thursday, hours after Morsi tried to relieve him of the top prosecutor job to allay public anger over the acquittals of Mubarak-era officials accused of organizing an attack on protesters last year.
Morsi's bid to remove Mahmud by appointing him as ambassador to the Vatican bypassed checks on presidential control and reopened a rift between the judges and the president, who unsuccessfully tried after his election in June to reverse a court order disbanding the Islamist-dominated parliament.
Ahmed al-Zind, head of the Judges' Club, said the judiciary was backing Mahmud in a bid to uphold "the sovereignty of the law and the principle of separation of powers," the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported.
He said the judges would hold an emergency meeting "to confront the current crisis that aims at harming the judiciary."
Zind's group had fiercely opposed the Islamist's election last June, which ended a military-led transition after a popular uprising.
Morsi's attempt to sack Mahmud came after his Muslim Brotherhood movement called for protests against the acquittals.
By early afternoon on Friday, hundreds of protesters had gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square raising chants honoring those killed in last year's anti-Mubarak uprising: "Either we get them their rights, or we die like them."
Brotherhood supporters skirmished with protesters attending a rally in the square against the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly.