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ANHRI calls for end to military trials for civilians

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 14 August 2011 - "While watching the deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak, his sons and the representatives of his regime behind bars and undergoing a trial broadcast across the world is both an unforgettable and positive advancement for Egypt, it will not distract us from the ongoing military trials of civilians," said ANHRI.

ANHRI sees the trial of the former president as a source of greater motivation to achieve justice for all and equality on the ground, and not as an ultimate aspiration. While the ousted president - who brutally repressed his own people - is being justly tried before a regular court, the youth of the revolution are being hastily tried before military tribunals that do not meet the requirements of a fair trial.

A sudden trial

Seventy-year old Hassan Mohamed Bahgat, a retired army Captain, is facing charges of "insulting the army" when he was in Tahrir square on 8 June 2011, where he chanted slogans that the military prosecution found to be detrimental to the Armed Forces. The trial date was suddenly, and without notice, brought forward a day, to 14 August, which is considered to be a violation of the right of the defendant to a fair trial.

Summoning an activist without reason

On 14 August activist Asmaa Mahfouz was summoned to the military prosecution C28 in the 10th district, Nasr City, for an investigation without knowing the details of the charges against her, which is a further violation of the right of a defendant to know the reasons for their summoning.

Six activists before the military prosecutor

A number of activists have been referred to the military court on charges of "insulting the army and public officials while performing their work". Articles No. 133 and 184 of the Penal Code and Article 7/1 of the Military Judiciary Law No. 25 for the year 1966 and its amendments, apply on such a charge. The activists are:

1. Maged Mohammed
2. Mohamed Abdul-Ghani, who is 18-years old, has spoken about ill-treatment while in custody
3. Anas Yasser
4. Emad Soliman
5. Essam Abdullah
6. Mohamed Adel

Activists in prison following military trials

At least 10,000 civilians are serving military sentences, including a number of activists who were tried in hasty military trials. Among them are:

- Michael Nabil, a blogger serving a sentence of three years for writing an article entitled: "The army and people never were one hand".

- Amr Al-Beheiri, an activist serving a sentence of five years for contributing to demonstrations in Tahrir square.

- Mohamed Adel, an activist convicted of charges of "thuggery", who is serving his sentence in a military prison.

"We still insist on a halt to all military tribunals for civilians, regardless of the charges, in order not to turn these tribunals into means of repression that restrict freedom of opinion and expression. Rather, the Military Council should abolish the penalty of imprisonment in cases of freedom of speech, and refer any criminal charge to the competent civil court. Referring civilians to non-competent, unfair and hasty military tribunals has become a way of terrorizing all those who criticize the political performance of the Military Council in its capacity as a military governor of the country in this transitional period," added ANHRI.

Hence, ANHRI calls for a reconsideration of the cases before a civilian court for all those who were convicted by military tribunals. Moreover, ANHRI demands that the Military Council take further steps on the path of reform, such as investigating the Military Police (MP) personnel that is involved in human rights violations against activists of the revolution, as a way to reassure the people that Egypt is on the path of the revolution.

What other IFEX members are saying
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