Maspero victims’ lawyers quit military trial of 3 conscripts citing bias

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By Mennatallah Fouad Youssef

CAIRO: Rights groups and lawyers representing the victims of the Maspero crackdown said Wednesday they withdrew from the ongoing military trial of the soldiers accused of running over protesters by armed personnel carriers last October.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and the Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence said in a joint statement with the lawyers that after 12 hearings, they were sure that the court wasn’t interested in justice.

At least 27 were killed in a military crackdown on a mostly Coptic protest outside the State-TV building, Maspero, on Oct. 9, 2011.

The case was referred from the military to the general prosecution on Oct. 23, but according to the rights groups, one part of the case remained with the military court. A military statement dated Dec. 20 said the soldiers’ trial would be in a military court.

Three conscripts are facing charges of manslaughter. Victims’ lawyers say requests to change the charge from involuntary manslaughter to murder with intent.

This request, in addition to others including evidence, were ignored by the military court, the lawyers said. Requests pertaining to the inclusion more defendants in the case were also dismissed. Lawyers said they were not allowed access to the case files.

EIPR accused the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) of protecting military police officers from criminal responsibility and referring the three soldiers to military court even before the general prosecution finishes its investigation in the same case.

The rights groups and the lawyers of the families of the martyrs felt that under such bias by the military judiciary, the trial “only constitutes a cover of legitimacy to trials that wastes the rights of the victims and don’t pursue justice.”

They called for prosecuting the real perpetrators of the “Maspero massacre,” whether those gave the orders, committed it or hid the evidence.

They also called for an independent investigative judicial body with wide ranging authorities to examine the case. Media incitement against Copts should also be included, they said. The judicial committee should announce the investigations results in three weeks in a press conference, with details of the legal procedure to be taken, so those responsible would be taken to court, they added.




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