Egyptian political activist Bahaa Saber on Tuesday refused to answer a new summons for questioning issued by military prosecutors.
Saber told Ahram Online that he had been instructed to meet with military prosecutors at 9am, but had received the order at 9:30am. Even if he had received the order on time, however, he says he would not have answered it.
“I have said repeatedly that I’m against military trials for civilians, and I refuse to participate in this,” Saber said. “I’m a civilian. My relationship with the army ended when I finished my mandatory army service. If there’s a problem, I should face a regular judge, not a military one.”
Saber added: “Military trials should only be for military personnel, like ousted president Hosni Mubarak who is – ironically – being tried before a civil court.”
On 30 October, Saber, along with activist blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah, was summoned for questioning by military prosecutors over his alleged role in 9 October clashes in Cairo between Christian demonstrators and the army that left at least 26 dead.
The army accused Saber and Abdel Fattah of inciting riots and attacking army personnel among other criminal violations.
Abdel Fattah was placed in detention pending investigation, while Saber was released by the army.
According to Saber, he was neither told why he was let go that day or why he was being summoned again.
Saber said his lawyers had suggested that prosecutors might question him about testimony said to have been delivered by a witness from the Nile Delta governorate of Gharbiya.
Earlier on Tuesday, Ahram Online reported that a member of the recently-licensed Egypt Freedom Party in Gharbiya, Fahmy Abdel Aziz, had testified against Abdel Fattah and Saber, although it remains unclear whether this is the same person.
Abdel Aziz has reportedly claimed to have seen both men, along with blogger Wael Abbas, in Cairo’s Abdel Moneim Riyad Square – which is adjacent to the Maspero district, where the 9 October clashes took place – on the night of the deadly incident.
According to the witness, he saw Abdel Fattah and his colleagues assault an army soldier and confiscate his weapons.
The Egypt Freedom Party has already distanced itself from Abdel Aziz, stressing its opposition to the practice of referring civilians to military courts. Party officials have made it clear that Abdel Aziz does not speak for the party.
Party member Nirvana Shawky told Ahram Online that Abdel Aziz was currently facing an internal party investigation over his testimony.