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No to Military Trials group: Many protesters released, more still detained

Protesters arrested and subject to military trials, now acquitted, testify to rough treatment inside military prisons

Ekram Ibrahim, Thursday 25 Aug 2011
Military trial
Witnesses during the No Military Trials press conference on August 25. (Photo: Ekram Ibrahim)

Two days ago, after 57 days in prison, 19 out of 29 civilians detained on 28 and 29 June during violent clashes that took place between police and supporters of families of the martyrs of the January revolution were released Tuesday. The other 10 detainees were released in recent weeks.

According to lawyers with the No Military Trials Campaign which represents many individuals the Egyptian army detains, all those arrested on those two violent days have been found not guilty and were set free.

“The military prosecution has informed me that they are planning to move the cases under investigation in military trials to civil ones,” Ragia Omran, a co-founder of NMTC, told Ahram Online during a press conference held by the Campaign at Daam Centre today.

Omran says that she believes  wide media coverage that was alloted to the case of Asmaa Mahfouz, a political activist who was summoned by the military prosecution for allegedly insulting the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) two weeks ago, has played a positive role in this development.

“SCAF is really pressured now to stop sending civilians to military trials because they are realising that the public is turning against these trials,” Omran told Ahram Online.

While NMTC said that it is pleased with the release of all 29 detainees, they indicated that they have concerns about the ill treatment received by those released at the hands of the army, in addition to concerns about thousands others still detained.

“I was beaten, dragged and detained for being the street in solidarity with the families of the martyrs. As they took me to the army vehicle, I was heavily injured and I found the majority inside the car bloodied also,” said Mohamed Adel, one of those detained on 28 June, at the press conference.

Five other individuals who were released gave personal testimony at the conference. They all agreed that one of the most awful part about their experience in military prisons is that the army locks up political protesters in the same quarters as those sentenced to death. “The majority of those sentenced to death have nothing to lose and thus were so aggressive with us,” added Mohamed Abdel Hamid.

All five released acknowledged that they are were subjected to humiliating treatment, like making prisoners strip naked in front of everybody.

“It is very humiliating to stand naked in front of 180 people,” Mohamed Soliman, another released detainee said.

Detainees also faced legal obstacles, such as difficulties in meeting with lawyers as well as being called to trial suddenly and without notice.

“I don’t mean to say that all those detained in the military prisons are angels, but military courts are not equipped to deal with civilians. They really treat us as non-humans,” Abdel Hamid complained.

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