Egypt refers 555 terror suspects to military court

Egypt's chief prosecutor on May 7 referred 555 individuals suspected of joining a local affiliate of the Islamic State (ISIS) group to military court. The charges against them arise out of a series of attacks carried out by dozens of small militant groups situated in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula. The suspects will faces charges for the planned and executed killings of security personnel, attacks on military checkpoints, and the destruction of a gas pipeline between Egypt and Jordan carried out over a series of 63 attacks.

Currently only 216 of the 555 suspects are in custody. Included in the list of defendants is Egyptian national fugitive and former chairman of Building and Development Party, Tarek el Zomor. El Zomor, a former member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, is charged with inciting violence and number of terror-related incidents dating as far back as 2013.

Also on May 7, the Giza Criminal Court sentenced nine individuals to life in prison for crimes associated with ISIS. Two others in the case were given sentences of five years imprisonment and three others were acquitted for lack of evidence.

From Jurist, May 7. Used with permission.

Amnesty: Egypt's use of solitary confinement amounts to torture

Amnesty International released a report May 7 revealing that individuals detained on politically-motivated charges in Egypt are being held in conditions that amount to torture. The report, "Crushing Humanity: the abuse of solitary confinement in Egypt's prisons," details the various abuses carried out in 24 documented cases of prisoners whose duration of confinement lasted between "three weeks to over four years." Prolonged solitary confinement is defined by the Nelson Mandela Rules (PDF) as "solitary confinement for a time period in excess of 15 consecutive days." Under international law, solitary confinement should only be used as a measure of last resort.

Najia Bounaim, North Africa campaigns director at Amnesty, said that Egyptian authorities are using solitary confinement "as a horrifying 'extra' punishment" against detainees, "designed to crush their humanity and eliminate their hope in any a better future." Those detained have reportedly been subjected to abuses including "beatings by prison guards and having their heads repeatedly dunked into a container by human excrement." Detainees were also given insufficient food and water. The mental and physical abuse has had long-term negative effects on prisoners including panic attacks, hypersensitivity to stimuli, difficulties with concentration and memory, and paranoia. (Jurist)