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When Egyptian courts sentenced over 1,000 defendants to death in the spring of 2014, and when former President Hosni Mubarak was acquitted of human rights violations months earlier despite decades of documented torture, serious questions arose about the independence of the judiciary.At this point Mubarak realized that his political survival depended on taming the judiciary. In an unprecedented move in 2002, he unilaterally transferred Judge Fathi Naguib, known for his loyalty to the regime, from the Justice Ministry to head the SCC. He was instructed to pack the court with judges unlikely to challenge executive authority. Over time, this executive control has curbed judicial independence.Indeed, reformists have long accused the executive of making judicial appointments based on political considerations that would ensure a cooperative SJC and judiciary in line with the regime's core interests.Many of the judges who boldly challenged Mubarak's rule years before the January 2011 uprising are now finding themselves systematically purged from the judiciary.Fortunately, Egypt's judiciary is far from monolithic and is made up of many judges committed to creating an independent judiciary that can protect Egyptians from government abuses and preserve order.
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