Five Azhar Students Referred to Military Tribunal for Arson

The Cairo Criminal Court referred to a military tribunal on Sunday five students at al-Azhar University accused of torching the university’s control room.

The court announced its lack of jurisdiction in the case.

The students were charged with joining a “terrorist” organisation, displaying force and threatening to use violence, possession of Molotov cocktails and vandalism, among other charges.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued on October 27 a new law which refers crimes committed against the state’s public and “vital” facilities to the military judiciary.

The law, criticised by human rights organisations for expanding the jurisdicition of military tribunals on civilians, was passed shortly after the death of at least 33 security personnel in militant attacks in Sinai on October 24.

The legislation authorises armed forces personnel to cooperate with the police in securing “vital” facilities. It is valid for two years.

Article 204 of Egypt’s new constitution already allows referring civilians to military trials “in cases which represent a direct assault on armed forces institutions, their camps or anything that falls under their authority, alongside assaults on military or border zones, and military institutions, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, documents, secrets, public funds, or factories.”

The article was gly condemned by civil society organisations and a number of political movements before the constitution passed.

No Military Trials for Civilians, a group campaigning against referring civilians to military tribunals, has rallied protests against this article as well as previous legislations which allow the military trial of civilians.

Source : Aswat Masriya