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Military court sets verdicts for two cases

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A dozen men face military trials for squatting in empty buildings and protesting unemployment

Agroot Military Court in Suez set verdict sessions for two military trials that were held on Monday. (AFP\Photo)

Agroot Military Court in Suez set verdict sessions for two military trials that were held on Monday.

Agroot Military Court in Suez set verdict sessions for two military trials that were held on Monday.

The court saw closing statements for the case of six Suez squatters who were demanding government housing, and closing statements regarding six other men tried for holding a sit-in at a port in Suez. Verdict sessions were scheduled for both trials on 15 April.

Military police initially arrested seven people for their involvement in the port sit-in but one of the defendants, who is 15 years of age, was referred to a juvenile detention facility.

The men held a sit-in at the port from 15 to 20 March protesting their unemployment and demanding the government provide them with jobs, said No to Military Trials for Civilians Movement member Mahmoud Salmani.

Military police arrested the seven men during the fifth day of their sit-in and they were charged with verbally assaulting military officers. Their families have attempted to apologise to the Commander of the Field Third Army but the defendants are still facing trial.

Six more people were arrested on the same day in an unrelated case. On March 20 military police arrested six men who had been squatting in three empty buildings that are part of a government housing project.

On 16 March families of the detainees occupied three vacant buildings in the “Freedom Area” neighbourhood as squatters to prove that housing units were available despite the Suez governorate’s claims.

The squatters requested the army’s presence to corroborate their case. They agreed that they would leave the buildings if asked to do so by army officers. Army officers did not order them to leave, but refused to corroborate the squatters’ claims.

Four days later the squatters were attacked by men allegedly hired by the governorate and called the army again for help, but were arrested, Salmani said.

Article 198 of the new constitution allows for military trials for civilians in special circumstances “as regulated by the law”. Over 12,000 civilians have faced military trials since the January 2011 uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

There have been three military trial cases since the adoption of the constitution in December.

About the author

Ahmed Aboulenein

News Reporter

Ahmed Aboul Enein is an Egyptian journalist who hates writing about himself in the third person. Follow him on Twitter @aaboulenein

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