The Administrative Court in charge of looking into State Council affairs decided Saturday the re-trial of any police personnel previously convicted by military court.
The decision was made by Judge Mahmoud Fawzy, vice-president of the State Council and legal advisor to the Minister of Transitional Justice, which he confirmed to Daily News Egypt Sunday.
“However, this is a pure technical procedural decision, based on an old court decision,” Fawzy said. “It is also concerned with disciplinary charges, not criminal charges.”
Police personnel are not to face military trial, according to a ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court, which stated that police officers and conscripts’ military trials were not constitutional.
The case dates back to November 2012, according to Judge Mohamed Samir from the Supreme Constitutional Court, and the lawsuits were filed by individuals.
According to Articles 206 and 207 of the constitution, passed in January 2014, the police is a civil entity, supervised by an internal supreme council which includes members of the State Council’s legislative committee, in charge of managing legal affairs related to the personnel.
“The police serve a civic duty,” former president of the State Council Mohamed Hamed El-Gamal told Daily News Egypt Sunday.
However, a branch of the police, the Central Security Forces, is composed of military conscripts, which the armed forces hand over to the Ministry of Interior. As such, questions emerged about which judicial institution is to carry out their trial in case they face accusations.
“They are affiliated with the Ministry of Interior and not subject to military trials,” military expert Hossam Sweilam confirmed to Daily News Egypt.
Last October, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a decree amending Law 109/1971 to refer police conscripts accused of crimes to military trials, instead of the Supreme Council of Police Force, as it was previously.
Khaled Okasha, head of the Center for Security Studies and former police officer, explained that the new court ruling does not cancel Al-Sisi’s decree.
“The decision taken by the president was actually corrective; it applies on conscripts who are currently serving in the police but are originally military conscripts,” Okasha told Daily News Egypt Sunday.
The Ministry of Interior request additional forces from each year’s batch of the armed forces. Therefore, if those military conscripts are distributed in police services, they are still subject to military jurisdiction.
“Throughout the history of the Ministry of Interior, police personnel are not judged by military court,” Okasha added.
Meanwhile, Okasha clarified that there is confusion because the police law uses the same term “military trial” to refer to trials inside the Ministry of Interior, which also can be misleading in courts and mistakenly refer a police case to a military trial.
On the other hand, military trials for civilians have increased, as more citizens accused of breaching the Protest Law are being referred to military courts. The most recent were three Al-Azhar University students facing charges of violence and obstructing main roads.