Independent observers needed in Egyptian military court

Independent observers needed in Egyptian military court

Amnesty International (AI) has written to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak urging him to ensure that independent observers are permitted access to the trial of 40 members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The trial resumes before the Supreme Military Court in Heikstep, Cairo, on 5 August 2007.

AI is again sending Jordanian lawyer Samieh Khreis as a delegate to monitor the trial. Mr Khreis was previously among a number of international and Egyptian legal observers who were turned away by security officials when they sought to gain entry to the Supreme Military Court during its last session on 15 July. Such observers were also turned away when they attempted to attend a previous session of the trial on 3 June 2007.

The 40 defendants, who include leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood, face charges of terrorism and money-laundering that could incur the death penalty. They are being tried before a military court on the express instructions of President Mubarak although none of them hold any position within Egypt’s armed forces. Seventeen of the 40 were previously tried, but acquitted on the same charges by a Cairo criminal court.

AI opposes the use of military courts to try civilians. Military courts cannot be seen as independent and impartial tribunals, as international law requires. Their use for such a highly-charged political case in addition to denying access to the court by international observers exacerbates Amnesty International’s concerns about the fairness of the trial.

Read more:
Justice subverted: trials of civilians before military courts (Fact sheet, 2 August 2007)
Egypt: Amnesty International condemns use of military court to try civilians (Public Statement, 13 July 2007)
Egypt: Flawed military trials for Brotherhood leaders – Human rights groups, media barred from observing trial (Public Statement, 4 June 2007)