Families of detained embassy protesters recount children’s arrests

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CAIRO: Families of detained embassy protesters recounted stories of torture and imprisonment experienced by their children, who they say were randomly arrested by military and police forces after the storming of the Israeli embassy on Sept. 9.

"My son was coming home from work near El-Gama’a Bridge when he found himself in the midst of the clashes and was randomly arrested by military police," said father of detainee Ramy Gad, at a press conference Thursday.

"I served in the army in 1967 and 1973 and I was shot with seven bullets in my body — seems that my reward is the trial of my son in front of a military court," he added.

The conference was held after a protest on the steps of the Journalists’ Syndicate calling for an end to the military trials of civilians; and was followed by a march from the syndicate to Talaat Harb Square to support the detainees and condemn the emergency law.

Fady Moustafa El-Sayed, 19, is a student at the Cinema Institute who works at a media agency near the Giza Security Directorate where clashes escalated on the night of Sept. 9 and continued into the next day.

El-Sayed’s mother said, "He went there to submit his work and was randomly arrested and severely beaten by Central Security Forces (CSF)…and tried in front of military prosecution.”

"I’m not appealing to the military council, I’m appealing to the Egyptian people to free my son. I’m not going to cry because we paid for our freedom with blood in Tahrir Square," she added, referring to the mass protests that toppled president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year, where one of the main demands was ending the emergency law.

El-Sayed’s friends at the Cinema Institute have decided to go on strike at the start of the academic year, boycotting classes until he is released.

General Adel El-Morsy, head of the Military Judiciary, had praised in an earlier interview with Egyptian state TV the independence of the military judiciary.

"Military judges cannot be sacked, imprisoned or controlled, and the only authority over them is the authority of their consciousness. The military judiciary entails all the same guarantees of the independence of the civilian judiciary," El-Morsy said.

He explained that seven categories inside the military institution are subject to the Law of Military Judiciary, including officers in the army, soldiers, civilians working in military institutions and students in military academies.

"In addition, Articles 4, 5 and 6 of the law stipulate that the military law can be applied on other categories of civilians who commit crimes in places belonging to the military," he added.

Lawyer Mohamed El-Sherif, defending Fady El-Sayed, said the military prosecutor interrogating El-Sayed had told him not to worry because there is no evidence against him, and added that he is being detained "to pacify public opinion."

However, "minutes later, El-Sayed received 15 days pending investigation in prison, which indicates that he was imprisoned without evidence," El-Sherif explained. "Defendants are imprisoned without evidence, how could this be a fair trial?"

Lawyer Mohamed Abdel Aziz of Al-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims said that 87 protesters were referred to military prosecution, while 34 were tried by state security emergency prosecution until now, including many minors.

"Both trials are exceptional trials, the only difference is that those in front military prosecution are accused of attacking military officers while the one interrogated by state security prosecution are charged with attacking police officers," Abdel Aziz said.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) issued a statement demanding the release of a group of minors arrested during the clashes, which violates human rights international agreements and treaties signed by previous Egyptian governments that the military council vowed to commit to after Mubarak’s ouster.

"After Jan. 28, civilian police forces completely withdrew from Egypt’s streets which resulted in the civilian’s judiciary inability to perform its duties," El-Morsy has said, justifying the start of the military trials for civilians.

Rights groups say at least 12,000 civilians have been tried in military courts since the January uprising.


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