The Cairo Appeal Court on Saturday postponed to 14 March a verdict on 70 suspended Egyptian judges for allegedly signing a statement supporting the Muslim Brotherhood as a political faction.
Fifty-five of the judges are charged with signing a statement of support for former president Mohamed Morsi and the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, in protest over the military takeover on 3 July 2013.
Another 15 are charged of belonging to a group called “Judges for Egypt”. Five days after the military-lead ouster of Morsi, three members of the group read a statement in Rabaa Al-Adaweya Square. They argued that “ what happened on 3 July  is a military coup and we demand that the Egyptian people support the constitutional legitimacy”.
Egypt has outlawed both the Brotherhood and its political arm – the Freedom and Justice Party.
The law to regulate the judicial authorities stipulates that any judge who is referred to a disciplinary committee is to stand trial, with the possibility of suspension from judicial duties.
Among the suspended judges are former Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekki and his brother, former vice-president Mahmoud Mekki.
Investigations revealed that after the judges signed the statement, it was read to the demonstrators during the pro-Morsi sit-in in Rabaa Al-Adaweya.
The sit-in lasted for 47 days, before it was violently dispersed by police and army forces on 14 August 2013. Security forces blocked all entrances to the square, located in Nasser City, and started firing teargas, birdshots, and live rounds.
Video footage by pro-army and pro-police channels and media outlets claimed that protesters used machine guns to counter the dispersal by security forces. On the other hand, amateur footage from journalists and protesters showed security forces firing live rounds and targeting medics and people with cameras.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report describing the dispersal as a “crime against humanity” and stated that it was “planned at the highest levels of Egyptian government”. Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) condemned the HRW report, calling it misleading and biased.
The judiciary in Egypt has become a controversial issue, with activists citing harsh sentences and mass death sentences against protesters and alleged members of Islamist groups.
Latest criticism of the Egyptian judiciary included the dismissal of charges against former president Hosni Mubarak, as well as the sentences against protesters charged with violating the controversial Protest Law.
Earlier this month, revolutionary activist Ahmed Douma and 229 other defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment and fined a total of EGP 17m. Prison sentences of 10-years were also given to 39 minors.
Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds of defendant to death, in the often criticised mass trails. Plenty of criticism surrounds Judge Nagy Shehata, who is responsible of issuing a number of controversial verdicts.