A Cairo military court trying 26 Qorsaya island residents sentenced one defendant to five years in prison in absentia and acquitted 14. The remaining 11 were sentenced to three months in prison but released for time served.
The military claims ownership of the island, saying the land is used for defence purposes. Islanders accuse the military of taking away land they had been living on for many years before the military arrived there. A court has twice ruled that the land belongs to the residents.
The army attempted to forcefully evict residents of Qorsaya in November. Clashes between the two resulted in the death of Mohamed Abdel Mawgoud Ahmed, who was shot. At least eight additional Qorsaya residents were injured in the violence.
Following the clashes, 26 Qorsaya residents were charged with committing acts of violence against the military and encroaching on military property. All but one were arrested and faced a long running military trial.
Ahmed Badawi, who claims ownership of land on the island, received the longest sentence, five years, for evading arrest. Badawi is also charged with inciting violence against the army.
Over 12,000 civilians have faced military trials since the January 2011 uprising. Article 198 of the new constitution allows for military trials for civilians in special circumstances “as regulated by the law”.