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#StopShehata: Egyptians strike back at infamous 'executioner judge'

Shehata is notorious for handing down death sentences en mass [Facebook]

Date of publication: 19 January, 2016

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Egyptians have taken a stand against one of their country's most reviled judges and shown solidarity for the people who have had the misfortune of entering his court room.

Egyptians have started an online campaign against the country's most hated judge, Nagy Shehata, known for handing out death and life sentences to hundreds of people at a time, in what human rights groups have called "outrageous" and "politically-motivated" sham trials.

Social media users in Egypt this week launched the Arabic-language hashtag #StopShehata on the eve of the anniversary of the January 25 revolution, with most activists likely to lead demonstrations on the national holiday having been detained.

Notorious for handing down death sentences en mass, Shehata has presided over several high-profile cases. In December 2014, Shehata sentenced 183 individuals to death at once.

Shehata initially gave sentences of seven to ten years in prison to three Al Jazeera journalists; Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste.

The eccentric judge, often found wearing dark sunglasses and smoking a pipe in court, told a local newspaper in an interview that he was "happy with the title 'the executioner judge'".

Photojournalist Ahmed Gamal Ziada, who survived an unsolved stabbing attack in December, wrote on Facebook: "They always tell us to respect the judges even though they don't even respect themselves. The fact that Shehata is a judge is a massive insult to the judiciary system and has completely demonised the profession."

Activist Mona Seif tweeted: "Execution before deliberation. Shehata has made a business out of this".

Facebook users posted a cartoon strip of Shehata smoking hashish and making ridiculous rulings on cases while under the influence of cannabis.

One Twitter user joked: "Pluck out Nagy Shehata's moustache".

Crack Down

Egyptian authorities are rounding up activists ahead of the fifth anniversary of the January 25 uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak and have detained at least five people this week.

Among those detained were three activists, including prominent physician Taher Mokhtar, who were detained in police raids at their apartments in downtown Cairo on Thursday.

A forth person, poet Omar Hazek, was detained and quickly released but banned from leaving the country, according to a Facebook posting.

Also, managing editor of the privately owned Masr al-Arabia news website, Ahmed Abdel-Gawad, was detained after security forces raided the website's office on Thursday. He was released on Friday, a second statement said.

The detentions are the latest in what has been a persistent and extensive crackdown on Islamists and secular activists alike, launched after the military's 2013 coup against Mubarak's successor, Islamist President Mohammad Morsi.

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