The Egyptian government has refused to allow human rights groups to observe the military trial of 33 leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood, undercutting the government’s claims that civilians will have a fair trial before military courts, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint press release June 4.
Amnesty, HRW, the Arab Commission for Human Rights and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights sent observers to monitor the trial, but none were allowed to attend. Among the accused is Khairat al-Shatir, the organization’s deputy supreme guide, who was arrested Dec. 14, 2006, along with 16 other Brotherhood members in predawn raids. They were subsequently charged with membership in a banned organization, providing students with weapons and military training. On Jan. 29, 2007, a Cairo criminal court dismissed all charges against al-Shatir and his co-defendants, and ordered their immediate release. Security forces re-arrested the men moments after the ruling, and on Feb. 4, President Hosni Mubarak ordered the cases, and those of 23 other alleged Brotherhood members, transferred to a military court. On May 8, a Cairo administrative court ruled that Mubarak’s order was invalid, but on May 14, the Supreme Administrative Court reversed that decision.
‘Having failed to secure convictions from ordinary criminal courts, the government is now turning to a military tribunal to deliver the desired verdict,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. (Amnesty International, June 4)
In a surprise move June 4, Egyptian authorities released 130 members of the armed Egyptian Islamic Jihad group after they signed pledges of non-violence. All had been convicted of participating in terrorist and anti-government activity. Many had been held after their prison terms expired. Ahmad Yousef, a provincial Islamic Jihad leader from Bani Suef, south of Cairo, was among those released. (AlJazeera, June 4)
See our last post on Egypt.