Judge Zakareya Abdel Aziz, former head of the Judges Club, has been officially forced into retirement due to allegations that he engaged in political activity and incited the storming and burning of the State Security headquarters in 2011.
The judiciary’s High Disciplinary Council issued its final verdict in the case on Monday, upholding an earlier ruling issued against Abdel Aziz on March 7, according to the privately owned newspaper Al-Shorouk.
Zakareya was a prominent figure in the independent judges’ movement that emerged under former President Hosni Mubarak in 2005 to fight against judicial corruption and the institution’s role in forging election results. He was the head of the Judges Club from 2001 until 2009. In 2013, Zakareya joined the Judges for Egypt group that emerged after the election of deposed President Mohamed Morsi, and which became aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.
A video that circulated online appeared to show Abdel Aziz at the State Security building as it was being stormed in March 2011 following Mubarak’s ouster. After he was referred to investigations into his alleged involvement in the incident in 2015, Abdel Aziz said the accusations were untrue and motivated by vengeance. He claimed that he went to the security headquarters after it had already been stormed and convinced the people there to leave the premises.
There is long-standing animosity between Zakareya and current Judges Club head Ahmed al-Zend, who was removed from his position as justice minister in March.
Judge Mahmoud al-Khodeiry, another leading figure from the Mubarak-era judicial independence movement, is currently serving a three-year sentence after he was convicted of torturing a lawyer in Tahrir Square in 2011. Leading Brotherhood figures including Mohamed al-Beltagy and Safwat Hegazy were also implicated in the case.
Last month, the same disciplinary council upheld a decision to send 47 judges into forced retirement in two separate cases, in which the justices were accused of siding with the Muslim Brotherhood and engaging in political activity.