En route to defence ministry, activist says SCAF should pay for its 'crimes'

Ahram Online, Friday 10 Feb 2012

Asmaa Mahfouz strikes out at Egypt's ruling military council as she marches towards defence ministry headquarters in Cairo's Abbasiya district

Marching towards Egypt's defence ministry on Friday, prominent activist Asmaa Mahfouz said that members of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) should stand trial – like toppled president Hosni Mubarak – for killing unarmed protesters.

Mahfouz, who is currently taking part in a march originating from Ramses Square in downtown Cairo, was briefly interviewed by Qatari news channel Al Jazeera.

"No one is above the law," she told Al Jazeera. "This is one of the principles that prompted the Egyptian people to start [last year's] January uprising.

"Mubarak faces charges of instigating the killing of protesters during the revolution," she added. "So the SCAF should also be tried for the crimes committed under its rule."

Mubarak, along with his two sons and a former interior minister, stands accused of ordering police to fire on unarmed demonstrators during last year's 18-day uprising, during which hundreds of anti-regime protesters were gunned down. That trial remains ongoing.

Several clashes that have followed the revolution have resulted in more protester deaths, for which many blame the SCAF and military forces.

Last October, 27 were killed after a Coptic-Christian protest march was attacked in Cairo's Maspero district. Videos showed army vehicles running over demonstrators, while soldiers were accused of firing on civilians.

In December, more allegations of human rights abuses by the military proliferated on the Internet as security forces – including both army and police personnel – forcibly dispersed a sit-in before Egypt's Cabinet office in downtown Cairo. At least 18 were killed and hundreds injured in the ensuing violence.

The most infamous rights violation, however, was an assault – captured on video – in which three military policemen stripped and beat an unidentified veiled woman.

The ruling SCAF, meanwhile, has repeatedly denied using excessive force against civilians.

"Whoever wants to know the truth should hit the streets," Mahfouz told Al Jazeera. "For those who say we're a bunch of thugs, we're not carrying any weapons and aren't damaging public property."

Last year, Mahfouz was almost referred to a military tribunal after insulting SCAF head Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. The charges against her were, however, eventually dropped.

The SCAF assumed executive authority following Mubarak's 11 February ouster last year. Since then, it has repeatedly vowed to relinquish power once a civilian president is elected in polls slated for June.

Recurring nationwide demonstrations, however, have continued to call for the immediate handover of power to an interim civil administration.

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