Military trials for civilians to end when emergency laws are lifted: Egyptian General

Zeinab El Gundy, Monday 5 Sep 2011

The ruling military council has announced that it will stop trying civilians in military courts after it lifts emergency laws

No military trials
One of the No military trials for civilians campaigns' logos circulating on the internet

In a press conference held today, Lt. General Adel Morsi, the chairman of the military judiciary authority, announced that the ruling military council (SCAF) will end its use of military trials for civilians once emergency laws in Egypt are lifted.

Lt. General Morsi revealed that military courts prosecuted 11,879 civilians, acquitted 785, and doled out 1836 suspended sentences from 28 January to 29 August 2011.

Morsi added that 1225 sentences are pending ratification.

In recent weeks, human rights organizations and political activists have criticised SCAF's use of military trials against civilians, and accused the council of meting out unnecessarily harsh sentences against individuals, arbitrarily charging people, as well as targetting political activists and supporters of the revolution.

However, Lt. General Morsi defended SCAF's use of military trials for civilians. He argued that SCAF was forced to use military trials to prosecute certain crimes civilians commit due to the break down of public security after the  January 25 revolution.

Morsi insisted that SCAF used military trials only in cases of thuggery, arms trafficking and rape. He added that only 231 civilians currently face military tribunals, mostly in cases related to arms trafficking.

Last week, under pressure from activists, SCAF released 230 political activists it had detained and charged after confrontations between the militwith protesters in the past 2 months.

Activists in Revolution Youth Coalition and No to Military trials campaign along with numerous political and rights organisations are planning to converge on Tahrir square on 11 September to pressure SCAF to immediately discontinue all military cases against civilians.

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