An investigations judge ordered the referral of 60 fellow judges to disciplinary committees on allegations of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on Monday.
The investigative judge, who has been assigned to the investigation by the Court of Appeals, also demanded their removal from their positions, the paper added.
The judges are being investigated for signing a statement in support of the Muslim Brotherhood on July 24, 2013, during the Rabea al-Adaweya sit-in. Judge Mahmoud Mohie Eddin is the one who read out the statement.
The investigative judge also accused Mohie Eddin of fraud, as he allegedly forged signatures of other judges on the statement.
In the statement, Mohie Eddin allegedly accused the military of illegitimately ending the rule of former President Mohamed Morsi.
The incriminated judges hold positions at different levels of the judicial hierarchy, and include judges from the Court of Cassation, the Court of Appeals and others.
According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, investigations revealed that Central Auditing Authority head Hesham Geneina and former Minister of Justice Ahmad Mekky pushed the judges to issue the statement. They were intercepted as they held meetings with the judges in a public place in Maadi, the newspaper reported.
Through his position, Geneina has been leaking corruption reports associated with key state institutions and figures, including the police and the judiciary.
In another feud between Geneina and judges, the Cairo Court of Appeals ordered him to pay a LE30,000 fine for libel, after Geneina accused the head of the Judges Club, Ahmed al-Zend, of false allegations in an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Zend is also said to be behind the case against the 60 judges.
Judges have also been accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in another case involving the Judges for Egypt group. A disciplinary council is currently conducting investigations with 15 judges from the group, who are accused of “engaging in politics.”
Amr Abdel Rahman, head of the civil liberties unit at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, points out that the referral of the judges to a disciplinary committee takes place within the larger context of a solidified conservative current within the judiciary.
This current became “more popular and more credible with the defeat of the reformist current in the judiciary,” he says. The reformist current, which stood against electoral fraud in 2006, became increasingly associated with the Brotherhood, particularly during the time when Morsi made decisions that allegedly infringed on the independence of the judiciary.
“This rendered the reformist current less credible,” Abdel Rahman says.
After June 30, Abdel Rahman says the judiciary became part of the military-led alliance to oust Morsi. “The judiciary is assuming the role that was traditionally played by security back under the Emergency Law, such as their involvement in the renewal of preventative detention of political prisoners,” he says.
Nathan Brown, who teaches at George Washington University and who researches Egypt’s judiciary extensively, had previously pointed out on-going divisions within judicial institutions. Since the 2011 revolution, he argues, calls for purging the judiciary from those who are considered to be affiliated with the Hosni Mubarak regime have been controversial, given the lack of clarity of the evidence and approach to the purging process. The same controversy arose with the rise of a group of judges who showed sympathy with the ousted Islamist regime of the Brotherhood, who are the main targets in the calls to purge the judiciary today.
For Brown and others, these rivalries within the judiciary around political associations has endangered the profession.