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Legal take on the release of the kidnapped soldiers

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AFTE lawyer: Egyptians have the right to know exactly what happened

Egyptian military chief of staff Sedky Sobhy (R) listens to a soldier who was one of seven policemen and soldiers seized in Sinai by kidnappers upon their arrival at Almaza military Airbase in Cairo on May 22, 2013 following their release. (AFP Photo)

Egyptian military chief of staff Sedky Sobhy (R) listens to a soldier who was one of seven policemen and soldiers seized in Sinai by kidnappers upon their arrival at Almaza military Airbase in Cairo on May 22, 2013 following their release.
(AFP Photo)

By Nourhan Dakroury

Unclear circumstances surround the release of the seven soldiers who were kidnapped in North Sinai less than a week ago.

No official statements were made by the president or the prosecutor general about what will happen to the kidnappers.

“This is the nature of the country, since the time of Mohamed Ali, [founder of modern Egypt],” said Ahmed Youssry, a lawyer at the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre.

Youssry said that authorities have had the habit of giving the masses only part of the information.

Ahmed Ezzat, a social rights lawyer at the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), considers not disclosing the details of the release as a violation of the right of the people to learn about the destiny of the kidnappers and what happens in their country.

Ezzat said that there is a lack of information about what happened between the state and the kidnappers, which makes it difficult to form any concrete opinion on its effects on society.

He added that part of the problem in Sinai is that Egypt does not have full sovereignty over the land, since they are required to inform Israel whenever they have to send in more troops.

“The Camp David Agreement is a threat to national security,” Ezzat said.

He added that the government needs to revisit its political stance towards Sinai.

Reda Mar’ei, a lawyer with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), said that authorities dealt with the matter as if it was a temporary problem, without taking into account that this is an issue closely linked to circumstances faced by many residents of Sinai: segregation and injustice.

Mar’ei said that a significant part of this problem is the lack of justice and not holding officials accountable for crimes they may have committed.

The kidnappers had demanded the release of Hamada Abu Shita, who was sentenced to death for his involvement in an attack near the Rafah border, which resulted in the death of 16 people.

Hamdy Khalaf, lawyer with EIPR, said that prison authorities must undergo rehabilitation and respect the international human rights agreements that dictate how prisoners should be treated.

According to Mar’ei, more than one report has been filed against prison authorities for the torture that Abu Shita underwent in prison, which lead to him losing his sight.

Mar’ei said that this is considered a strong motive for the kidnappers, but does not justify what they did.

Mar’ei’s added that authorities must have negotiated with the kidnappers in order to release the soldiers.


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