A military court in Egypt sentenced 418 opponents to prison terms ranging from two years to life in prison for their alleged involvement in violence at a police station in August 2013, according to a legal source, reported Middle East Monitor.
“The military court in Assiut sentenced 249 defendants in absentia to life in prison and three defendants to three years in prison and 47 others to 10 years in prison for storming a police station in Minya in 2013,” said Khaled Al-Komi, a member of the defense team.
He added, “The same court also sentenced 101 defendants in absentia to life in prison and sentenced 18 others to 10 years in prison for storming and burning a governmental communication center in Dermowas station.”
The verdict can be appealed.
All the defendants were also accused of “belonging to a banned group”, in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Komi explained.
Hundreds of civilians were referred to military courts by the Egyptian authorities based on an October 2014 decree by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Human Rights organization reported unprecedented extension of military court authority in Egypt since 2013 military coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi.
Military courts have tried at least 7,420 civilians who most of them were sentenced after mass trials that violate fundamental due process rights, and some courts relied on confessions extracted under torture, according to Human Rights Watch.
Nadim Houry ,the HRW deputy Middle East and North Africa director, said “Apparently unsatisfied with tens of thousands already detained and speedy mass trials that discarded due process in the name of national security, al-Sisi essentially gave free rein to military prosecutors.” He added, “He has handed back to the military judiciary the powerful role it enjoyed in the months after Egypt’s uprising, when the nation was governed by a council of generals.”
According to the HRW report,”These military trials have swept up at least 86 children, as well as students, professors, and activists, including individuals who were forcibly disappeared and allegedly tortured. Military courts have handed down 21 death sentences since October 2014, though a lawyer with the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms said that none have yet been approved by the Supreme Military Court of Appeals.”