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Military court charges graffiti artist

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 24 October 2011 - ANHRI deeply condemns the ongoing military trials for civilians, which have continued despite promises by Military Council leaders they would come to an end. ANHRI notes that the trials violate the Egyptian Constitution as well as the most basic conditions and standards for a fair trial.

Military Prosecution East (C28) is continuing its investigations into the case of Ali Al-Halaby, an activist in the 6 April Movement who was charged on for "damaging public property" and "approaching a military area" after he reportedly participated in painting graffiti on a wall. Another defendant, Ahmed Sameh, a member of the 6 April movement, was summoned on the same charges.

A group of soldiers from the Egyptian army had detained Al-Halaby in the early morning of 19 October while a group of 6 April activists were painting graffiti on the walls of Al-Wafaa Wal Amal Association, warning of remnants of the National Democratic Party. He was referred to the military prosecution which decided to detain him pending investigations. While he was being held, the prosecution decided to summon the activist Ahmed Sameh, the owner of the car in which Al-Halaby was arrested.

ANHRI notes that the graffiti in question is primarily street art of the type that has proliferated following the 25 January revolution, a type of art that expresses opinions and is used by activists in Egypt and Tunisia to criticize authorities or political movements or to raise awareness among fellow citizens.

ANHRI's legal team is defending Al-Halaby and Sameh and will attend the investigations. ANHRI continues to oppose the military trials but is committed to ensuring that that the activists are properly defended.

"We will not accept any verdict or conviction against them in a military tribunal because it will be a naturally flawed verdict, coming, as it does, from an exceptional trial. If the Military Council perceives graffiti as a charge that requires a trial, it should bring the activists before a civilian judge," said ANHRI.

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