Human rights watchdog Amnesty International in a Friday statement condemned the torture and military trial of five Muslim Brotherhood members detained by authorities while trying to flee across the border into Sudan.
Khaled Hamza, an editor for the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English-language website, and four others were arrested by military police on 25 February while attempting to cross into Sudan in the Wadi Al-Allaqi border area in southern Egypt.
According to the charges filed against them, the defendants were “attempting to cross the border illegally”, “present in a military zone without permission”, and “in possession of 700 [firearms] cartridges”.
Lawyers for the five defendants said the men were tortured in the Central Security Forces camp where they are being detained, reported Amnesty International, including electrocution and prolonged periods of being hung by their wrists and ankles.
“The men’s families told Amnesty International that they were only able to visit them once, on 4 March. One family member saw marks of torture or other ill-treatment on the neck and the face of one of the detainees,” read the Amnesty report.
Hamza, who has a heart condition and high blood pressure, has not had access to medication or medical care, said Amnesty International.
The defendants’ lawyer said they were not able to access their clients’ case files until the day the military trial began on 17 March.
“[The defence] asked for the trial to be adjourned because of this, and because they had been unable to discuss the substance of the charges; and wanted a medical forensic expert to examine the detainees,” said the statement. “The judge postponed the trial to 24 March, but refused to order a forensic examination of the men. Instead, he agreed to an examination by a public health inspector, operating under the Ministry of Health.
“The lawyers are concerned that a public health inspector’s assessment would not be impartial or accurate.”
Amnesty International has demanded authorities transfer the case to a civilian court, ensure the men are not tortured, grant them adequate medical care, and allow visitation with their families. The group is also calling for an independent investigation into the men’s claims of torture.
The Egyptian military has come under fire since the 25 January Revolution for subjecting tens of thousands of civilians to military trials. Human rights groups both in Egypt and abroad have called for civilians convicted under military courts to be retried in civil courts.