|Judge Said Youssef Sabri|
Youssef, who led the two high-profile death penalty cases in southern city of Minya, told the AP he was notified Sunday that he was removed from the "criminal judiciary" to the "civilian judiciary." His final day in criminal court was Tuesday.
"I was notified while I was looking into cases," Youssef said. He added that his court, known as the "terrorism court" and assigned to look into cases linked to violence and acts of terror, had been "dismantled." He declined to discuss why he was removed.
Other officials, including a top judicial official, corroborated Youssef's account.
Youssef's court, which started hearing cases in March, is the only "terrorism" court that will be dismantled, court officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.
The move looks like a demotion for Youssef. According to Egypt's el-Shorouk daily newspaper, removal from the court is an exceptional measure which only takes place in two cases: either the judge has been associated to an act that is damaging to his reputation or that he was investigated by a special committee which ruled that he was no longer capable of overseeing criminal court cases.
Said was condemned when he sentenced to death more than 1,200 people in two mass trials. The number of death sentences, initially the most in recent memory anywhere in the world, was later reduced to more than 200. Most of the defendants were charged with murder, attempted murder, joining an outlawed group aiming at toppling the regime and stealing government weapons in connection with the attack last August in the town of Matay and el-Adawa, south of Cairo. Police officers were killed in the attacks.