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The New Arab

Sex scandal controversy embroils Egyptian judiciary

Abdel Hady became known for ruling in a number of high profile political cases [Twitter]

Date of publication: 30 July, 2015

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A sex scandal involving an Egyptian judge has exposed corruption within Egypt's controversial judicial system.

An Egyptian judge was forced to resign from his position as head of a Cairo court after being accused of demanding a sexual bribe from a woman in return for ruling in her favour, sources told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Judge Ramy Abdel Hady was confronted by the Administrative Control authority and the public prosecution after the woman involved gave them recorded phone conversations where Abdel Hady asked her for sexual favours in return for ruling in her favour.

The authorities then opened an investigation before Egypt's public prosecution issued a gag order in the case, banning local media from publishing any related details until further notice.

On social media, Egyptians defied the gag order by circulating information about the case and making sarcastic remarks about it.

Sources told al-Araby al-Jadeed that there is an unspoken agreement between the Justice Ministry, currently headed by Ahmed el-Zend, and different judiciary bodies that if any judge is involved in a criminal case, it can be closed in return for the judge's resignation.

"The Egyptian judiciary has become a weapon in the crackdown on dissent"
- Nicholas Piachaud

Abdel Hady first denied the allegations and refused to resign. However, he was forced to resign on Tuesday after Judge Mahmoud Kamel el-Rashidi, who was behind the acquittal of ousted President Hosni Mubarak in what was often referred to as the Trial of the Century, banned him from entering the court.

Abdel Hady came to be known for ruling in a number of high profile political cases.

Last month, he ruled in favour of TV presenter Ahmed Moussa, who is considered by many to be a government propagandist. Moussa had allegedly defamed Osama al-Ghazali Harb, head of the Democratic Front party, accusing him while on air of "working against the state".

In another case, Abdel Hady sentenced five girls, who were accused of breaking the anti-protest law, to five years in prison and a 100,000 Egyptian Pounds (12,767) fine each.

The case is only a few days old, but it has already sparked controversy all over local and social media, renewing the debate on the corruption of Egypt's judiciary.

"There are serious questions on the independence and partiality of the Egyptian judiciary", Nicholas Piachaud, a London-based Egypt researcher at Amnesty International, told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"The Egyptian judiciary has become a weapon in the crackdown on dissent", he added.

"Egypt's judges are not taking on the security forces, who have near total impunity for their human rights violations. Instead, they hand down heavily politicised verdicts against opposition members, journalists, and protesters."

Earlier this year, mass death sentences were passed against hundreds of alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters, and were condemned by multiple rights groups.

In contrast, charges against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak over the killing of protesters during the 2011 revolution were dropped last year.

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