56 Egyptian judges probed, six stripped of immunity over online activity
Minister of Justice Mohamed Hossam Ahmed

CAIRO: Egypt’s High Judiciary Council has ordered 56 judges from the prosecution and Ministry of Justice be investigated over publicly airing their personal opinions on the handover of the two disputed Red Sea islands, Youm7 reported an anonymous official at the council Sunday evening.

The council, chaired by Judge Ahmed Gamal al-Din, stripped six of the judges of immunity who were then referred to the public prosecution for investigation, the official added on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to brief the media.

The decision by the council to investigate the judges was taken after they viewed the judges’ activities on their personal social media pages. According to the reports, the referred judges expressed their opinions on a deal between Cairo and Riyadh per which Egypt announced Saudi sovereignty over the two islands of Tiran and Sanafir that are located at the entrance of al-Aqaba Gulf in the Red Sea.

The Council previously issued a decision per which judges are prohibited from participating in any political activities, the Minister of Justice Aide for Parliamentarian and Media Affairs Khaled al-Nashar said. He added that voicing political opinions endangers the neutrality of the judiciary.

In 2014, the council banned judges and general prosecution members from posting anything political online in light of preserving the judiciary integrity and independence.

According to the council’s regulations of 2006, a judge shall not preside over a case in which they have previously expressed a personal opinion in order to not affect the course of the case.

The Red Sea islands deal that was signed in mid-April has stirred public anger, pushing thousands of people to take to the streets on April 15 and on April 25 when hundreds of protesters were arrested. More than 150 detained protesters received court sentences ranging from two to five years in jail over charges of breaching the protest law, and inciting riots.

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