File photo: Military officers taking part in Tahrir Square protests (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Mohamed El-Rays, the lawyer representing 22 military officers jailed for joining anti-military council protests, has accused Egypt's defence minister of attempting to mislead the public with his latest statement on their sentences.
Defence Minister General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Saturday issued an order to reduce the sentences of 21 officers - jailed for joining demonstrations on 8 April 2011 against the then-ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) - to suspended one-year prison terms.
El-Rayes criticised the decree because it did not order the release of every officer arrested on 8 April 2011 – of which there were at least 22 – particularly Mohamed Tarek Wadie, who was the group's leader.
The reduction in the officers' sentences did not mean they would be released immediately, El-Rayes added.
Wadie's father, Tarek Wadie – a former brigadier general – said the treatment of his son was "arbitrary."
"When my son went to Tahrir Square he was wearing civilian clothes [i.e. he did not go dressed in military uniform, which would have been illegal]," Tarek Wadie added.
The "unjust" treatment of Mohamed Tarek Wadie was due to his statements in opposition newspapers and his poems critical of the military "which infuriated Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi," Tarek Wadie asserted.
He went on claim the decision to try his son separately from the other 8 April officers – who went to Tahrir Square together – was "unlawful."
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who was Egypt's de facto leader before the election of President Morsi and served as minister of defence for more than twenty years, was forced to retire by the president on 12 August, and replaced at the ministry by Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi.