Amended law allows Egypt courts to extend defendants' detention indefinitely

Ahram Online, Thursday 26 Sep 2013

A recent amendment to Egyptian criminal procedures law will have significant consequences for defendants charged with major crimes, who may now be detained indefinitely while their trial is conducted

High Judicial Court
Riot police guard the front of the High Judicial Court (Photo: Reuters)

Interim President Adly Mansour has approved an amendment to the current criminal procedures law that will allow Egyptian courts to renew temporary detentions indefinitely while trials are ongoing.

The law now states that defendants in jail pending trial for charges that could lead to a verdict of execution or a life-sentence could have their detention extended for 45 day increments indefinitely until the trial is over. 

Prior to this amendment, a judge could only extend the detention of a defendant for two years while the trial was being conducted. After these two years, the defendant was required to be released from jail, even if the trial was ongoing. 

This legal protection allowed ousted president Hosni Mubarak, who has been on trial since August 2011, to be released from jail last month. Despite his release, investigations of the charges against Mubarak continue, and his trials are ongoing.

Mubarak's release has ignited popular frustrations that the ousted president, who is charged with killing protesters during the 2011 uprising against his 30-year autocratic rule, is now being released. 

Mubarak will not face detention again under the amended law unless he is faced with new charges filed after the amended law came into action. 

Meanwhile, ousted president Mohamed Morsi and other leading Muslim Brotherhood figures await trial under the newly amended detention procedures. A number of top Muslim Brotherhood figures, including Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, are currently on trial for charges of inciting violence against protesters during clashes at the group's headquarters on 30 June. The trial's first hearing is scheduled to take place on 29 October. 

Morsi has been held incommunicado since he was ousted by the army on 3 July amid mass popular demonstrations against his rule. He is being detained on charges of espionage and collaborating with Palestinian Islamist group Hamas to orchestrate his escape from Wadi Al-Natroun prison during the 2011 uprising against Mubarak.

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