Prime Minister Essam Sharaf (File photo).
The cabinet of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf yesterday agreed to implement a decree issued by the ruling military council earlier this week to try civilians suspected of breaking emergency laws in State Security emergency courts not military courts.
Earlier this week, after a weekend of violent clashes between protesters and police at the Israeli embassy, SCAF issued decree 193, which expanded Mubarak-era emergency laws to cover a new slew of vaguely defined criminal violations.
SCAF will now use emergency laws, which Mubarak used against common criminals and political opponents alike, to prosecute new crimes such as 'infringing on others' right to work', 'impeding the flow of traffic', and 'spreading false information in the media'.
SCAF also extended life-time for these laws, which were set to expire late this year, until May 2012.
Sharaf's cabinet attempted to deflect mounting criticism of SCAF's decision to expand Mubarak-era draconian laws and not abolish them as it had promised as recently as two weeks ago. The cabinet said it would not apply these laws in issues that involve freedom of opinion or peaceful protest. It assured critics that emergency laws will only apply to 'acts of thuggery'.
Defendants in State Security Intelligence courts do not have the right to appeal verdicts.