Egypt president releases 572 prisoners convicted by military tribunals

Newly elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on July 19 ordered the release of 572 people who had been convicted by the military. Morsi, Egypt’s first elected civilian president, had formed a committee to review all the cases of prisoners who had been sentenced by military courts since the beginning of the revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak last year. Activists and international rights groups have repeatedly called for Egypt to end the practice of civilian trials by military commissions, which have been criticized for not meeting the requirements of independence and impartiality. Morsi also commuted the life sentences of 16 individuals to seven years imprisonment. Earlier this month Morsi appointing a fact-finding committee to investigate the deaths of protesters in last year’s demonstrations. 9,714 individuals have been released out of the 11,879 Egyptians detained by the military since last year’s uprising.

Earlier this month, a few days after he was sworn in, Morsi issued a decree calling the dissolved Egyptian parliament back into session, despite a previous ruling by the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court dissolving it due to its finding that one-third of its members were elected illegally. The court suspended Morsi’s decree two days later, after which Morsi vowed that he would respect the ruling. A court struck down a government decree in June that restored broad arrest powers to Egyptian military officials. Days before its dissolution, the Egyptian parliament elected a new constitutional council after lawmakers finally reached an agreement on the political composition of the council. In April the country’s Administrative Court effectively suspended the work of the 100-member council responsible for drafting the country’s new constitution after ruling in favor of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the formation of the panel.

From Jurist, July 20. Used with permission.

See our last posts on Egypt and the Arab revolutions.