Criminal Justice Joint Press Releases Press Releases

Criminal Justice | Rights Organizations Condemn Military Verdicts Against Civilians in Suez, Call for Retrial

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, and the No to Military Trials for Civilians campaign denounced the mass verdicts announced by the military court in Suez on 3 September 2013, against dozens of civilians. The organizations demanded that military court verdicts are not ratified and that the defendants be retried at a criminal court, according to their right to fair trial in front of the regular courts. The organizations also called on the interim President to utilize his legislative authority to issue an immediate amendment to the law of military courts, prohibiting the indictment of any civilian by military tribunals and limiting their jurisdiction to members of the armed forces.

On Tuesday 3 September, the military court in Suez issued its verdicts against 63 civilian defendants, convicting one of them to life in prison, two to fifteen years of imprisonment with hard labor, one defendant with ten years hard labor, and 47 of them to five years imprisonment, finding 12 of the defendants not guilty. The military prosecutor in Suez had charged all defendants (in 17 separate cases) of “assaulting the military forces with rocks and molotov cocktails.”

The aforementioned rights organizations said the court issued its harsh collective sentences after just two sessions, where it looked into all 17 cases on 24 and 26 August 2013, before the sentencing date was set. The organizations added that their lawyers, who were part of the defense team representing the defendants, faced several obstacles to performing their role as representatives of civilian defendants. The court was held at the Third Army headquarters in Ajroud on the Cairo-Suez desert road, instead of its regular chambers at the Suez military court. At first, the Third Army’s security forces were uncooperative and would not allow the lawyers access to the court, claiming the lawyers were not provided with the power of attorney, despite the fact that their clients were being held. Negotiations continued for more than three hours during the first session, before the lawyers were finally allowed to attend the court.

It should be noted that this is the third set of military verdicts, brought to the attention of rights organizations, against civilian defendants in Suez since the transitional authorities came to power on 3 July 2013. On 24 July, the Suez Military Criminal Court had issued a two-year sentence against 8 civilians on 5 July (they wereMohamed Ali al-Sayed Raslan, Ahmad Hussein Ali, Ahmad Mohamed Tuhami, Moataz Ahmad Metwally, Mohamed Mohamed Abdu, Mohamed Sayed Ahmed, Sayed Mohamed Izzat, and Sayed Saber Ahmad). Cases Nos.119 to 122 of 2013 (Military Criminal – Suez) accused them of assaulting civil servants, trespassing the security offices of the Suez governorate building, and insulting members of the armed forces. The sentence was commuted on ratification to one year.

On the same day, 24 July, the Military Criminal Court in Suez sentenced Ramadan Ahmad Ismail and Mohamed Amin Mohamed to two years in prison, after charging them with libel, slander, and assault on a member of the armed forces in case No.274 of 2013 (Military Criminal – Suez). This was following a quarrel between the two defendants and a soldier in Suez.

On the other hand, the interim President of the Republic, Councilor Adly Mansour declared in an Egyptian television interview on 3 September 2013 that not a single civilian had been referred to the military courts.

Signatories:

  1. No to Military Tribunals for Civilians
  2. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  3. Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
  4. Hisham Mubarak Law Center

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment