Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat has referred 61alleged “terrorists” from Damietta and Menufiya governorates to military court, charged with seeking to “create chaos in the country in an effort to overthrow the Egyptian state”.
Investigations have shown that the “terrorists” had established committees composed of armed militants to act as the military wing of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. This is alleged to have occurred after the dispersal of the sit-ins in support of the ousted Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi in August 2013, according to state news.
The detainees are accused of committing murder, bombing and burning public facilities, and planning to assassinate judges and army and police officers.
They “admitted” to being members of the Muslim Brotherhood, receiving orders from the group’s leaders, harbouring more members, and training them to use different weapons and to manufacture explosives.
They also confessed to planning to kill police officers in case the death sentences against Muslim Brotherhood leaders were implemented. Last week, Morsi and 105 others were handed death sentences, inciting a national and international outcry.
Six convicts in the ‘Arab Sharkas cell’ were executed on 17 May after the Supreme Military Court sentenced them in October for killing military and police personnel.
In 2011, in the wake of the 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.
In March, at least 363 civilians have been referred to military trials on charges of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and engaging in violent incidents during protests.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a decree on 27 October, effective for two years, stipulating that those accused of crimes against the state’s “vital” facilities will be referred to military prosecution.
The law “[pertains] to the protection of vital and public facilities” according to a Monday presidential statement, which added that the armed forces and police will coordinate to protect these facilities.
Among the facilities “protected against terrorist attacks” by the new law are “stations, power networks and towers, gas and oil fields, rail lines, road networks, bridges”, according to presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef.