Egypt Constitutional Court defines military courts' jurisdiction in cases of attacks on public facilities

Ahram Online , Monday 6 Nov 2017

Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court (Reuters)

Egypt's Constitutional Court has defined the constitutional guidelines for referring civilians to military courts in cases of illegal protesting and gatherings around public facilities protected by the armed forces according to the 2014 Law on the Protection of Public Facilities, Law136/2014.

Article 204 of Egypt's 2014 constitution stipulates that "Civilians cannot stand trial before military courts except for crimes that represent a direct assault against military facilities, military barracks, or whatever falls under their authority; stipulated military or border zones; its equipment, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, documents, military secrets, public funds or military factories."

Law 136/2014, which was amended in 2016, stipulates that crimes committed against public facilities such as power plants, electricity towers, gas lines, railways, roads and bridges or any other public property fall under the jurisdiction of the military court system until 2021.

The court today set three main conditions for civilians to be referred to military courts according to the Law 136/2014.

First, the crime must be directly committed on a facility secured by the armed forces.

Second, the facility in question must be under the actual and direct protection of the armed forces at the time of the crime.

Third, the violation must come under crimes punishable by the penal code and Law

The court's ruling today should settle legal uncertainties over jurisdiction in cases of crimes committed around public facilities and covered by Law136/2014.

In 2015, for example, the military prosecution refused to accept a referral by Beni Suef courts of a case involving illegal protest outside public facilities based on Beni Suef's interpretation of Law136/2014, saying the violation fell under the jurisdiction of the civil court system.

The court concluded that all recent cases involving illegal protesting, possession of illegal arms and fireworks, which created confusion over jurisdiction between civil and military court systems, could be tried based on the 2013 protest law and do not require the defendants to be tried before military courts.

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