Former State Council Secretary General Wael Shalaby was found dead inside his prison cell hours after the prosecution issued a four-day detention order on Monday, pending investigation into allegations that he was involved in a corruption case.
Shalaby was reportedly founded hanged in his cell.
The public prosecutor’s office has issued a gag order prohibiting the publication of any information concerning the case, except that provided by the office’s official statements.
While the prosecution has not disclosed information regarding the conditions of Shalaby’s detainment at the time of his death, judicial sources in the State Council have stated that they were notified he had been held in solitary confinement and committed suicide in his cell.
The State Security Prosecution interrogated Shalaby for six hours on Sunday as part of a case in which the former secretary general faces accusations of bribery, illegal profiteering and the appropriation of public funds.
The Administrative Control Authority arrested the State Council’s sales manager Ahmed Gamal al-Din al-Labban last week in the same case, accusing him of accepting bribes in contracts to deliver office furniture to the council. Labban was arrested in possession of currency valued at LE152 million, divided into LE24 million, US$4 million, 2 million euros and 1 million Saudi riyals.
The State Council released a statement following Labban’s arrest, confirming that he is an employee in the council and not a member of its judicial staff. The prosecution, however, subsequently asserted that Shalaby was involved in the case, which prompted the prosecution to demand that the State Council lift the secretary general’s judicial immunity.
The State Council announced that it accepted Shalaby’s resignation on Sunday, the same day on which he was arrested and interrogated.
The corruption charges come amid discussion of contentious amendments to the legal statues governing the appointment of the heads of judicial bodies. The proposed revisions would grant Egypt’s president greater power in deciding who will lead Egypt’s judiciary by granting them the power to make an appointment from a list of nominees prepared by the Supreme Judicial Council.
Under the current appointment process, the longest tenured judge is appointed to head each judicial body.
The amendments have been opposed by several of Egypt’s judicial bodies, claiming that they undermine the judiciary’s independence. Critics of the legislative revisions have linked them to an administrative court’s decision to annul the transfer of Sanafir and Tiran islands to Saudi Arabia. The Supreme Administrative Court is expected to issue a final ruling on the transfer on January 16.