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Blogger sentenced to three years in military prison

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, April 11th, 2011 - Human rights organizations defending blogger Michael Nabil, who was brought before a military court over his criticism of the junta, condemned the harsh and almost secret sentence issued against him on April 10. Nabil was sentenced to three years in prison, after his lawyers had already left the courtroom.

Nabil, 26 years old, wrote a post on his blog slamming the army's actions during and after the revolution of January 25, which led to his arrest on March 28. After a short investigation before the military prosecutor, he was referred to a military court which set the hearing for April 10.

Nabil's lawyers, from the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), United Group and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, went to the military court on April 10 to hear the court's decision in the case. The Chief of the military courts informed them, however, that the case was adjourned to April 12. Several hours after the lawyers left the court, news leaked that a verdict had been issued against the blogger, sentencing him to three years in prison. This information was confirmed on the morning of April 11, raising suspicion about the court's action and the deliberate misleading of the defense. Secrecy and deception can now be added to the list of setbacks plaguing military trials that lack the slightest elements of fairness.

The lawyers and Nabil's family were surprised to find out that the verdict was issued in the absence of his lawyers. This behavior raises suspicions and doubts about the fairness of the trial, not only for being a military trial of a civilian over his opinions, but in the context of the proceedings of similar trials against other civilians.

The human rights organizations that are signatories to this statement said, "The freedom of Michael Nabil was shackled and stolen, not only by the military court, but by the media, that out of cowardness or collusion fail to publish any news about the numerous offences that are being committed. Talking about violations exercised by the junta is almost a wrong tune in such a stuffy atmosphere of hypocrisy, lying and appeasing which multiplies the mistake and turns it into a crime involving torturers and violators. We will not keep silent about torture or unfair trials, even if we are reduced to writing about these crimes on the walls in the streets."

The signatories to this statement warned that these unfair military trials against Egyptians will turn into a systematic practice that is being condoned and concealed by the Egyptian media, allegedly to protect the revolution. An atmosphere of fear and obscurity is the last thing needed for a revolution to thrive - what is needed instead is openness, transparency and justice, for which Egyptians have struggled for so long and will not give in.

Signatories:
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
United Group
Hisham Mubarak Law Center
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
Association for Human Rights Legal Aid
Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
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