Egypt’s Military Court Sentenced 104 Dissidents To Prison

An Egyptian military court sentenced 104 dissidents to prison for alleged violence following the August 2013 violent crackdown of Egyptian security forces, according to defense lawyers, reported Anadolu Agency.

Lawyers Khaled Komi, Alaa Tawfiq, and Mohammed Samir El-Farra  said that the military court sentenced 70 of the defendants to 25 years in prison and 14 others to seven years. In addition,the same court sentenced in separate cases  34 opponents of the regime to 25 years in prison and 20 others to five years in prison,said the lawyers.The court acquitted one defendant of the charges.

Hundreds of civilians were referred to military courts by the Egyptian authorities based on October 2014 decree by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi allowing the military to assist police forces in the protection of public facilities. As a result, the decree opened the door for military trials for those accused of attacking such facilities.

In this context,Human Rights organization reported unprecedented extension of military court authority in Egypt since 2013 military coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi.

Military courts have tried at least 7,420 civilians who most of them were sentenced after mass trials that violate fundamental due process rights, and some courts relied on confessions extracted under torture, according to Human Rights Watch.

Nadim Houry , the HRW deputy Middle East and North Africa director, said “Apparently unsatisfied with tens of thousands already detained and speedy mass trials that discarded due process in the name of national security, al-Sisi essentially gave free rein to military prosecutors.” He added, “He has handed back to the military judiciary the powerful role it enjoyed in the months after Egypt’s uprising, when the nation was governed by a council of generals.”

According to the HRW report,”These military trials have swept up at least 86 children, as well as students, professors, and activists, including individuals who were forcibly disappeared and allegedly tortured. Military courts have handed down 21 death sentences since October 2014, though a lawyer with the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms said that none have yet been approved by the Supreme Military Court of Appeals.”

Moreover, hundreds of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi were killed in August 2013 when security forces violently cleared their sit-in at Cairo’s Rabaa and Al-Nahda sit-ins Square. The sit-ins were organized in support of President Mohamed Morsi and in reject to the military coup. It also continued after Morsi’s ouster on July 3, 2013, until they were brutally dispersed on August 14, 2013. The Human Rights Watch said in a report, issued one year after the dispersal, that security forces “killed a minimum of 817 people and more likely at least 1,000.”