Suddenly, without any prior warning, State Council employee Ahmed Al-Labban was arrested from inside his home and a cave – dubbed “Al-Labban’s cave” – was photographed with more than $8 million worth of Egyptian pounds, as well as tens of millions of dollars and other currency lying around inside it. The government says that it was a bribe he received from the renovation of the State Council building. It is worth noting that if this building were sold, it wouldn’t be sold for more than $16.5 million at the time.
The corruption case was said to have been discovered by the Administrative Control Authority, where dictator Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s son works. Two days later, Wael Shalaby, Deputy Chief Justice of the Administrative Court, resigned immediately due to his involvement in the case. However, he was not put in prison, but rather was held in the Administrative Control Authority’s headquarters. He ordered kebabs for lunch and talked to his wife, reassuring her that they promised him things would be okay. Suddenly, the next morning, on 2 January, we heard news of his suicide. How? With a scarf he was wearing?
This raises a number of questions regarding the circumstances and mystery surrounding his alleged suicide, as well as the original bribery case and the suspicious timing. It is suspicious because the Supreme Administrative Court was on the verge of issuing a ruling regarding handing over Tiran and Sanafir Islands to Saudi Arabia on 17 January. Meanwhile, the government rushed to send the agreement papers to parliament for approval before the ruling was issued. It also rushed to get a ruling from an incompetent court to stop the implementation of the Administrative Court’s ruling stipulating the islands’ Egyptian characteristics.
All of this provoked confusion and gossip regarding the bribery incident and the suicide, which no one could believe. This also reminds us of similar suicides, which were actually assassinations to eliminate certain individuals in order to silence them and prevent them from talking, killing the truth along with them forever.
The public do not know so many of the country’s hidden truths – although they should know them – such as the “suicide” of Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer after Egypt’s defeat in the 1967 war against Israel in order to keep him from exposing Gamal Abdel Nasser’s failures.
There was also the suicide of General El-Lithy Nassif, former head of the Revolutionary Guard during Anwar Sadat’s presidency. At the time it was said that he threw himself from the balcony of the building he lived in in London in order to kill with him the secrets of what happened during what was called the Corrective Revolution, which El-Lithy was a main part of. It is ironic that the same building witnessed the suicide of Ashraf Marwan, Gamal Abdel Nasser’s son in law, who was a Zionist spy and weapons dealer, as well as actress Suad Husni, who was used by the intelligence agency for undercover work in the 1960s. She wrote about hat period in her diary, and they all threw themselves off the balconies of the same building.
These incidents and others like them aren’t believed by anyone sane, and that is why no one believes the government’s story about the State Council judge’s suicide. The suspicions surrounding the State Council itself regarding whether the purpose behind this is to break the judges to force them to rule that the Tiran and Sanafir islands are Saudi or, if it goes beyond this, to the point of eliminating the State Council itself as an independent court. This reminds us of what Abdel Nasser did in the 1950s when he abolished the religious courts by fabricating an immorality case against the judges and the newspapers continued to tarnish their image and reputation, after which he issued the order to abolish the courts.
This is especially the case since before this bribery suit, there was a dispute between the judicial authority and the government, as it is customary that the most senior individual who has served the longest becomes the head of the judicial committees and since Al-Sisi does not want Judge Dakroury to take charge of the State Council, he is in the process of passing a law preventing him from doing so.
We do not know the actual truth of things and these are all speculations, but we believe that Wael Shalaby did not commit suicide. Instead, we believe he was killed in order to hide the bigger names in the state who are taking bribes. Some have said that he was planning on exposing them once he was arrested and therefore he was killed in order for the secrets to die with him.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.