Sinai hospital workers acquitted by military court

The military court in Ismailia acquitted five hospital workers, who were arrested in July, on Sunday night.

Two doctors, two technicians and one nurse working in Al-Sadr Hospital in Sinai  were arrested on 24 July after the military airport was allegedly shot at from the hospital by militants. They are said to have aided the militants in their attack and were accused of attempted murder of military personnel.

Board member at the Doctors’ Syndicate, Ahmed Hussein, said that doctors are not responsible for securing hospitals and “this reinforces our demands to secure hospitals.” Doctors have long called for harsher penalties for those who attack hospitals and the demand was one of three that doctors raised when they held their 2012 partial strike. Hussein was one of the strike leaders.

In a statement given by the Doctor’s Syndicate, it was said that neither Galal nor Allam are from Al-Arish, but are working there to move up in their careers. Hussein said this trial will have long lasting repercussions. “We will have a problem trying to convince doctors to work in remote areas,” he said, adding that a lot of efforts, including offering incentives, were being made to attract doctors.

“But when doctors spend a month in military trial, it’s a joke,” he said.

The defense team for the hospital workers said that doctors Mohamed Galal and Ahmed Allam were in their private residences at the time of the shooting, a statement by the Doctor’s Syndicate read. The court  postponed the trial three times before arriving at a verdict.

The Doctors’ Syndicate gave a statement congratulating the medical personnel on Sunday. “The syndicate calls for the release of all doctors who were arrested since 3 July…” the syndicate said. It added that many of the doctors were arrested while performing their “humanitarian profession.”

On 3 July, former President Mohamed Morsi had been removed from power, leading to repeated deadly clashes between his supporters and security forces. Hussein said that nearly 85 doctors were arrested in these events, “many while performing their jobs in field hospitals, but some were arrested from their homes.”

“Thank God they are all being tried by civilian courts,” he said. However, he called for speeding up the investigations and for more transparency. He added that among the reasons people are kept in preventative detention is the fear of them escaping, but that is less of a concern with doctors. “The least that can be done is release them on bail,” he said.

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