Fifteen students were referred to a military court following an order by the Sharqeya governorate prosecution on Monday, state-owned news agency MENA reported.
Tens of students had launched a protest inside Zagazig University’s campus on Sunday, chanting against the police and the military, according to MENA.
The students marched from the campus towards the university hospital in front of the police club, blocked the road, and fired fireworks intensively.
The 15 detained students allegedly belong to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, and are charged with rioting, inciting violence, intimidating citizens, and protesting without permission. The prosecution also charged them with injuring four of the police club members during the protest. The trial date was set for 6 January.
“We received several notifications recently of people being referred to military courts,” said Sara Sherif, spokesperson of the No to Military Trials campaign. “We have six other students from Mansoura, and others across the governorates of Menufiya, Port Said and Beheira.”
In October, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a new decree, valid for two years, that stipulates referring any person who attempts to vandalise a public property to a military court. He urged military personnel to take part in protecting those properties along with the police forces.
Sherif said, however, that the decree is being applied retrospectively. Some defendants were detained over a year ago, before the decree, yet they are currently being transferred to military courts, she said.
The prosecution referred three male Al-Azhar University students in Cairo to military court on charges of violating the Protest Law, obstructing roads and engaging in violent activity, Students Against the Coup (SAC) reported Saturday. A further 25 defendants in Menufiya were transferred to military courts earlier in December, for allegedly belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Unlike civilian courts, military courts are specifically for military personnel and do not follow the same rules of civilian courts. The latter require issuing a verdict in the presence of a lawyer, as well as holding appeals and retrials.
In 2011, in the wake of 25 January Revolution, many cases were transferred to military courts, according to activists. The cases provoked many responses and launched advocacy campaigns, such as the renowned No to Military Trials campaign.
The issuing of the Protest Law by the interim government in November 2013 came at a time of frequent clashes between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and security forces. Since the law was enacted, it has been used to build several cases against students and activists on charges of “illegal assembly”.