A Cairo judge presiding over the trial of a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders declined to recuse himself on Sunday amid accusations that he is politically biased.
Nagy Shehata has given several press interviews recently in which he has spoken against the Muslim Brotherhood, a group which was designated a terrorist organisation and banned in 2013.
Egyptian social media users have also shared images apparently taken from Shehata’s private Facebook page showing him airing opinions opposed to both the Brotherhood and non-Brotherhood activists and figures associated with the 2011 revolution.
The authenticity of the Facebook page could not be verified.
During a Cairo criminal court session on Sunday, defence lawyers called on Nagy Shehata to step down.
Defendants in the case include the Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, the deputy supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mahmoud Ghozlan, former Kafr El-Sheikh governor Saad El-Hossainy, and Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan, who is on hunger strike.
They are accused of setting up a control room after the dispersal of the Rabaa and Nahda protest camps in 2013 in order to spread chaos in the country, and of planning to destroy police stations, private properties and churches.
The court on Sunday adjourned the case to 5 January so that the defence team could study television reports relevant to the case. The court ordered that all defendants remain in detention, including Soltan.
The 27-year-old has been on a hunger strike for 328 days in protest at his detention.
Shehata has become well-known after overseeing several high-profile trials in Egypt, most notably the case of three Al Jazeera journalists who received between seven and 10 years in jail each on charges of spreading false news and belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.