CAIRO/NEW YORK/LONDON: In a joint press release on Tuesday, two reputable international human rights organizations that were denied entry to the Muslim Brotherhood military tribunal on Sunday denounced prohibiting their monitors from attending the court session.
It was on Sunday morning that a delegation of rights monitors from Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI), the Arab Commission for Human Rights, and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights were denied entry by state security to the second session of the military tribunal against 33 prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood at Heikstep Military Base outside Cairo.
According to one of the monitors, Elijah Zarwan from Human Rights Watch, the delegation waited at a parking lot near the court for more than five hours.
Allegedly, state security officials continuously refused the monitors entry to the courtroom, stressing that Sunday’s session was a “secret hearing.
After several hours, a civilian-clad man in the company of military intelligence officers told the delegation that they would not be allowed to attend the trial, stated HRW and AI officials in their press release.
The government s refusal to allow the media and human rights observers undermines their assurances that civilians can get a fair trial in military courts, Zarwan told The Daily Star Egypt.
The majority of the detainees on trial hold senior positions in the Brotherhood, including Khairat Al-Shatir, the organization’s deputy supreme guide, who was arrested in a pre-dawn raid on Dec. 14, 2006 along with several other prominent members of the banned organization.
They were accused of “membership to a banned organization and “providing students with weapons and military training although official charges remain slightly unclear.
Since their arrests, the detainees have been acquitted by civilian courts several times. On May 8, a Cairo administrative court even ruled that transfer of civilians to military tribunals is “unconstitutional and cleared the Brotherhood affiliates of all charges.
On May 14, the case took yet another twist when the Supreme Administrative court reversed the May 8 verdict following a government appeal.
At the June 3 session at Heikstep Military Base, the court announced the trial adjourned until July 15.
“Twelve years ago the court granted me unfettered access when I observed the military trial of senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood, said Palestinian lawyer Anis Kassim, AI’s senior trial observer. “I am extremely disappointed in the government’s attitude this time.