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Egypt: Police arrest judge on suspicion of murdering journalist wife

Shaima Gamal's husband was detained at his hiding place in the Suez governorate, says interior ministry
Egyptian TV presenter, Shaima Gamal's body was found after a witness came forward with information to the country's public prosecution (Screengrab/Facebook)
Egyptian TV presenter Shaima Gamal's body was found after a witness came forward with information to the country's public prosecution (Screengrab/Facebook)

Egyptian security forces arrested a senior judge on Thursday night on suspicion of murdering his wife, the well-known journalist and TV presenter Shaima Gamal.

The ministry of interior said in a statement that the judge, Ayman Hajjaj, was detained at his hiding place in the Suez governorate, east of the capital Cairo.

Gamal was last seen 22 days ago outside a shopping mall in the governorate of Giza with her husband. Her body was found after a witness came forward with information about her alleged murder.

Accompanied by a forensic doctor, the witness guided authorities to the location of Gamal's body on 26 June, according to a statement by the public prosecution. 

The witness, who is thought to be Hajjaj's accomplice, had led police to a farm where the body was buried.

'Secret second wife'

His lawyer, Ibrahim Tantaw, told the Masrawy news site that Gamal had been the suspect's "secret" second wife for more than eight years, and had threatened to make his first wife aware of their marriage following a heated exchange.

Tantaw said that after an altercation in which they exchanged a series of insults, the husband struck Gamal three times on the head with a gun and strangled her with the scarf she was wearing, causing her to suffocate and die.

The lawyer's client allegedly witnessed the crime, and was threatened with the same weapon and briefly held captive by the judge.

He managed to escape, and went to the police shortly after, according to his lawyer. The witness admitted his involvement in the crime, and has since been detained by Egyptian authorities pending an investigation.

A forensic team said that attempts were made to disfigure Gamal's body to prevent identification.

Egypt’s powerful council of state, where Hajjaj sits as a judge, has revoked his immunity following the murder reports.

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He had initially filed a missing person's report on 20 June, alleging that his wife entered a hairdresser and did not come out.

The details about Gamal’s murder come just days after a 21-year-old Egyptian student was stabbed to death outside a university in the northern city of Mansoura. 

Nayera Ashraf was beaten and stabbed in broad daylight in front of shocked onlookers by a fellow student whose marriage proposal she had rejected.

A suspect was detained the following day and confessed to the killing. On Tuesday, a court sentenced him to death.