Egypt cabinet proposes empowering military courts to try terrorism cases

Ahram Online, Saturday 25 Oct 2014

Egypt's Prime Minster Ibrahim Mahlab meeting with all the ministers (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt's cabinet agreed on Saturday to draft amendments to the military judiciary law that would empower military courts to try terrorism-related cases, in the wake of militant attacks that killed 31 soldiers and injured almost as many men in Sinai on Friday.

According to Ahram Arabic website, a tentative proposal includes amendments to the military judiciary law to give the military court the capacity to look into terrorism cases that "jeopardize the country's security."

The amendments would address assaults against police and armed forces buildings and personnel, as well as public facilities, public properties and road-blockings.

The Egyptian constitution, enforced early 2014, addresses military courts in article (204). It limited powers of the military court to ''direct assaults" against military zones, facilities, buildings and border zones.

The cabinet reached the decision during an emergency meeting headed by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab. The draft law was introduced after President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi had vowed swift response to Friday's attacks.

The proposal needs to be ratified by El-Sisi, who holds legislative power in the absence of parliament, to become law.

The cabinet also decided to allocate the needed funds to implement the president's decision (336 – 2014) of securing civilians within the area detailed in the decree - close to border zones. The governors' meeting, Sunday, is due to discuss further details on the subject.

Military judiciary rules are to be implemented within the areas in North Sinai that are currently under the state of emergency, imposed following Friday's attacks.

The ministerial meeting also decided to approach all foreign embassies in Cairo to reveal what it termed "facts about countries backing terrorism", and to affirm that the state's plans to counter terrorism are in line with the constitution.  

The cabinet also said all "necessary measures" will be taken to protect public facilities and buildings in an attempt to deter "road-blockers and assaulters".

After the meeting, the cabinet called for unity among all political forces.

"All political forces should be united for the sake of the demands of 25 January and 30 June revolutions, and the road-map that was agreed upon after 30 June," the cabinet said.

The cabinet also said it was proceeding with plans to hold the parliamentary elections that would mark the end of the road map, which was drawn following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year.  

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