CAIRO: The head of the ruling military council Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi issued a decree Monday to cancel prison sentences handed down to 90 civilians by military courts, state official news portal Egynews.net reported Monday.
Head of Military Judiciary General Adel El-Morsy said in a press conference last September that over 12,000 civilians have been referred to military trials since the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) took over power after the ouster of the country’s strongman Hosni Mubarak in a popular revolt.
Over 8,000 of these civilians were handed down prison sentences by military courts; almost 1,200 of them are still awaiting the sentences’ approval. Over 1,800 received suspended sentences.
Human rights organizations say that only 2,000 civilians were tried by military tribunals during the entire 30-year rule of Mubarak, and were mostly against political opponents, unlike after the Jan. 25 uprising where political dissidents and normal citizens are being tried in front of military courts.
SCAF had previously declared ending military trials for civilians except in cases of thuggery, illegal arms dealing and ownership, and rape charges, but rights activists say many innocent civilians are being dealt with as "thugs."
Recently, the investigations of some high profile cases were referred from military prosecution to civilian investigations judges as demanded by activists and political powers.
The crackdown on protesters camped outside the Cabinet headquarters was one of these cases.
The Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) filed a complaint to the judge investigating clashes between army forces and protesters in front of the Cabinet building against high-ranking military officials and SCAF members.
The deadly crackdown left 17 dead and hundreds injured as rights organizations documented violations committed by army officers.
The complaint was filed on behalf of journalist Mahmoud Saeid and Azza Hilal, two citizens who tried to save the girl who was beaten, dragged in the street and stripped to her bra by army soldiers, an incident that was documented and condemned locally and internationally.
Hilal and Saeid were severely beaten by army forces.
SCAF member Major General Adel Emara said in a press conference following the deadly crackdown that this case will be investigated. "But we all have to consider the context in which these events took place," he said.
AFTE said that the investigations judge rejected the complaint, saying he will not investigate the injured in the case, and asked AFTE to file it to the Prosecutor General.
"We went to the Prosecutor General’s office to file the complaint, but we were told that only the investigations judge can receive the complaint, which made us send a telegraph to the investigations judge to question the two plaintiffs," the statement said.