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No civilians held in military prisons, say military judiciary

As debate on military trials for civilians builds in Egypt, the head of military judiciary says civilians not allowed in military prisons

Ahram Online , Thursday 19 Sep 2013
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Head of the military judiciary, General Medhat Ghazzy, has denied that any civilians are present in military prisons, spokesman for the committee amending the constitution said in a press conference on Thursday.

"Civilians are not allowed in military prisons," Ghazzy said, according to spokesman Mohamed Salmawi.

Ghazzy had met earlier with members of the two constitutional subcommittees dealing with the governance system and with rights and freedoms.

Salmawi said that several human rights organisations were present at the three-hour meeting, including the "No To Military Trials campaign."

However, Mona Seif, a leading member of No To Military Trials, told Ahram Online that her group had not attended the meeting.

Seif said that her group has a scheduled meeting with the 50-member committee next Monday, in order to discuss the issue with a military representative. However, after Thursday's meeting, she says the group is unsure whether this will take place as planned.

"It is true that there are no civilians in military prisons," Seif told Ahram Online. "The military stopped detaining civilians in military prisons from the end of 2011."

"However, the military leadership is avoiding the main truth," she said. "Civilians are still facing military trials."

Seif explains that the number of citizens facing military trials is higher in Suez Canal governorates and strategic border areas such as Sinai and Marsa Matrouh where there is a heavy military presence.

Seif, however, could not give a definitive figure on the number of civilians facing military trials.

"The last official count was announced on 5 September 2011 by Adel Morsi, former head of the military judiciary, when he said that 12,000 civilians have stood trial in military courts."

Since then there have been no official figures announced.

On 3 September a military court sentenced a Muslim Brotherhood member to life in prison for violence targeting the army in the port city of Suez last month. Forty-eight other members received sentences of between 5 to 15 years in prison.

In addition, Sinai-based reporter Ahmed Abu Deraa is currently on trial in military court for charges of photographing the Suez Canal and other proscribed sites, in addition to trespassing on military land without a permit.

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