“I consider my resignation an expression of protest against the current conditions of the judiciary, and I hope that a serious action is taken to reform it.”
It was with these words that Judge Mahmoud Al-Khudairi ended his career in the judiciary after 46 years as the vice president of the Egyptian Court of Cassation. This was back in 2009, when he was fighting for the independence of the judiciary under Mubarak’s reign. Last night, he was arrested by Al-Sisi’s militia at the age of 73.
Al-Khudairi is considered one of the leaders of the judiciary independence movement, launched during the judicial crisis in Egypt during 2005 and 2006, and working towards the independence of the judicial authority by preventing the executive branch and the political powers from controlling its work. He sought true independence for the courts through both his work within the judiciary and through his membership in the legislative branch of the revolutionary parliament in 2011.
Al-Khudhairi was born on 13 January 1940 in Tahta, Sohag and in 1963 he received a bachelor’s degree in Law from the Faculty of Law at the University of Ain Shams. He was appointed as a public prosecutor that same year. He worked his way up the judiciary and became the Vice President of the Court of Cassation and was also elected president of the Alexandria Judges Club on 7 May 2004.
He considers the concept of an independent judiciary to mean that judges are not subject to anything other than their own conscience and the law, and are thus free from any outside pressures, whether material or moral, so that their free will is unaffected by any political trends. Moreover, Al-Khudairi believes that the real beginning of reform in Egypt will only take place when a committee of senior legal and constitutional officials are formed to write a new constitution.
Al-Khudairi fought for the judiciary to be independent from the executive branch’s control during the days of Mubarak. He also struggled to put an end to all actions taken by members of the National Party, including those with economic interests, and the security agencies which created an environment that allowed them to rule the judiciary. They did so by controlling the appointment of judges and their promotions, and by dominating the finances of the judicial bodies in order to guarantee that some cases went the way that they wanted, especially cases affecting politics or having a political or security nature, as well as major corruption cases. Moreover, they ended judicial supervision of the presidential, legislative and local elections.
He continued to fight for the independence of the judiciary until the 25 January revolution, in which he joined the masses to depose the Mubarak regime, ending three decades of the National Party’s interference and domination over public and political life, as well as trying to halt the control of Mubarak’s men over the Egyptian economy and the management of wealth for their own benefit.
Al-Khudairi has persisted in his path towards the independence of the judiciary since the 25 January revolution by running in the parliamentary elections in 2011 and winning a seat and serving as the head of the legislative committee. He was also unanimously chosen by the members of parliament to head the supervisors of the Election Commission for the Constituent Assembly that drew up the constitution in 2012.