Egypt's military court orders detention of 300 of those arrested in Abassiya

Ahram Online , Saturday 5 May 2012

Military police beat tens of activists – injuring at least two – in front of the military prosecution headquarters while they were chanting against the SCAF in solidarity with those who were detained Friday

Military police soldiers throw back stones at protesters in the deadly clashes in front of the Ministry Of Defence headquarters Friday (Photo: Reuters)

Tens of activists were beaten Saturday afternoon at the hands of military police in front of the military prosecution headquarters in east Cairo as they were chanting against military rule. The activists were there to show solidarity with protesters who were detained in the wake of Friday's clashes at the defence ministry.

An Ahram Online journalist reported that military police used batons to suddenly disperse the 30 or so demonstrators, as they were chanting "Down, down with military rule," among other chants, near the tightly-security military prosecution headquarters. Two protesters, one male and one female, received heavy blows to the head, causing bleeding.

According to a military source, the North Cairo military prosecution has ordered the detention for 15 days, pending further investigations, of 300 of those arrested on Friday. The accused were arrested following mass demonstrations against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) at the Ministry of Defence.

The arrested face several accusations, including infringing upon state institutions, using violence against members of the armed forces, halting traffic, illegal gathering and having breached a military area.

The military has repeatedly claimed that the arrests came only after attempts to break into the Ministry of Defence. Activists, on the other hand, condemned the use of excessive violence by military police in dispersing the Friday demonstrations.

Rights lawyer, Ali Taha, told Al-Ahram's Arabic news portal earlier that the military police began interrogating 179 protesters, including 14 females, late Friday night following their arrest. Another group of protesters are to be interrogated later.

Taha said that many protesters had visible signs of being beaten, which prompted him to accuse the soldiers of assaulting the protesters while in their custody.

The activist group, No To Military Trials, published on its website a preliminary list of 311 male and 18 female protesters who have been reportedly detained from yesterday's clashes. Earlier official reports had reported only 40 arrested, which the No To Military Trials website refuted, claiming their list of 311 is actually from the military prosecution's own records on their arrests Friday night.

The ministry of health has confirmed two dead and at least 296 injured after Friday's clashes.  In a press conference held Thursday by Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the military council warned citizens against protesting in front of military facilities and asked people, instead, to stay in Tahrir Square.

Egypt's military police began firing water cannons on protesters at 3:30pm Friday, after thousands-strong marches reached the army headquarters to protest the ruling military council and push for a transfer of power to a civilian government.

Protesters were also throwing stones as clashes broke out. It remains unclear who initiated the battle.

Military police personnel were filmed on Nile state TV beating demonstrators with their batons.

Following the clashes the SCAF announced a one-night curfew on television. The Abbasiya area would be closed between Friday 11:00pm and Saturday 7:00am. The ruling military council said groups attacked the army outside of their headquarters earlier that afternoon.

Although the Muslim Brotherhood stated on it's Twitter account, Ikhwabwb, during the clashes that none of its members were present at the sit-in, it has initiated calls for mass marches on Abbasiya Square on Friday in solidarity with protesters. They object to the deadly attacks against the sit-in on Wednesday by unknown assailants. These clashes lasted into the early hours of Thursday morning and left 11 dead and hundreds injured.

The April 6th Youth Movement called the clashes in Abbasiya "chaotic" and the demonstrations there pointless, and, therefore, they announced it will withdraw from the scene, hoping to encourage a return to calm.

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