Thousands of Egyptian civilians tried in military courts since February 2011

IPS reports that thousands of Egyptian civilians, including protesters who helped topple the authoritarian regime of president Hosni Mubarak, have been tried in military courts without due process. Defendants are denied access to legal counsel, but receive assistance to defence lawyers appointed from a pool of army-approved attorneys. attorneys may be given as little as five minutes to meet with the accused, review the charges, and present the case before a military judge. Sentences handed down by military courts – which have included at least three death sentences since February – cannot be appealed.
Court records indicate Egyptian military courts have handed down more than 7,000 sentences since the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) removed Mubarak on Feb. 11 and assumed control of the country. Most of the trials have involved defendants accused of looting, arson and “thuggery” under tougher criminal laws passed after Mubarak’s ouster. The courts have also sentenced hundreds of protesters critical of the military council’s governance and decisions.

“Each case involves anywhere from one to 35 defendants… so we estimate that over 50,000 civilians have been sentenced in the last three months,” Ramadan told IPS. “We’ve never seen anything like this. Even under Mubarak’s rule there were only two or three military trials a year. ”

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