MB Military Trials Politically Motivated, Aim to Settle Scores

MB Military Trials Politically Motivated, Aim to Settle Scores

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has faced, since 1952 revolution, many military trials which violated its members simplist civil rights. The latest is the military trial facing 40 MB leaders topped by MB second deputy chairman Khairat Al-Shater, and MB Executive Bureau member Mohamed Ali Beshr.

Military trials against the Muslim Brotherhood starting from November 1992 until November 2000 included 1023 accused and these courts issued 92 death sentences and 644 prison periods thhat reached life sentences while 297 were acquitted. However, only a few perosns were released.

The series of referring civilians accused in terrorism cases to the military court started with the presidential decree of referring 48 defendants accused in both case of the the Returnees from Afghanistan and the Jihad Organization to the Supreme Military Court in Alexandria in late October 1992. 8 defendants, including seven fugitives, received death sentences in Oct. 3rd, although the Administrative Court issued a ruling on December, 8th of cancelling the decree of referring the accused to the supreme Military Court.

The court based its ruling on the sixth article of the military law that did not authorize the president to refer specific crimes or specific persons or cases. However, the legal interpretation that the Supreme Constitutional Court offered on Jan, 30th, 1992 backed the presidential right according to the emergency law to refer to the military justice any crime which is punishable according to the penal code or any other law. This interpretation gave a mommentum to this action leading to expanding the scope of refering civilians to the military justice.

The international and local public opinion rejects the military trials facing the Muslim Brotherhood. The latest military trial became under the international spotlight due in part to its flagrant violations to the laws and human rights and due to the huge leap in the telecommunication revolution. Nothing can be concealed like the past specially in the presence of sattellite channels, web sites, independent newspapers, and weblogs which show facts with high credibility.

Punishment and Revenge

Essam El-Erian, a top leader in the Muslim Brotherhood sees that the last military trial against MB members came after the MB garnered a fifth of the seats of the People”s Assembly, the lower chamber of parliament. He sees that this trial is a revenge and a punishment against the group for its success unlike previous military trials which aimed only to curb the group”s spread.

El Erian told Ikhwanweb that the latest military trial against MB members is different from the previous trials because many figures standing trial this time have top position both inside the group and inside the society. The crimes they face are also differnt as they face money laundry and terrorism charges. This trial included also freezing the assets owned by the MB members and their wives and underage children and closing businesses leading to sending thousands of workers to jobless rolls. this trial has taken a longer period of time, unlike previous trials which ranged between 7 to 8 months.

Politically Motivated to Settle Political Scores

Abdul Moneim Abdul Maqsoud, the coordinator of the defence team of the MB members referred to the military court, sees that the military court doesn”t give any guarantee as citizens rights are violated and are mainly politically motivated cases in which the regime is settling political scores with the opposition topped by the Muslim Brotherhood group.

Abdul Maqsood said that the Muslim Brotherhood faced several unjust military trials in the past ten years. in 1995, 83 MB leaders stood trial before the military justice. They included Dr. Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, Khairat Al-Shater, and Essam El-Erian and they were mostly sentenced to five years in prison.

1996 witnessed the Centre Party case whose defendants included the current MB chairman Mohamed Mahdi Akef and most defendants received three years in prison.

In 1999, there was the unionists trial that included 20 MB members. 15 of them were sentenced to three to five years in prison.

In 2001, there was the case of the organization of university professors in which 22, including Dr. Mahmoud Ghozaln, were sentenced to three to five years in prison.

A Sunni group that adopts peaceful means for change

Gamal Taguddin, a member of the MB defence team, said that security tips made president Mubarak change his opinion about the Muslim Brotherhood. Mubarak said previously about it that it is a Sunni group that adopts peaceful means for change but he changed his mind after the security distorted its image. He says nowadays that it is an illegitimate group although no one of its members was proved to be adoprting or carrying out terrorism.

“The trials that the Muslim Brotherhood has faced after the 1952 revolution up till now show that the Egyptian regime is weak. Although we completely respect the Armed Forces, but it shouldn”t intervene in the regime”s settling scores with opposition”, said Taguddin.

Taguddin spoke highly of the international solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood, but he saw as expected other nations” official silence towards the violations committed against the Muslim Brotherhood.

He added that the civil society has experienced huge leaps. The mother of peace Cindy Sheehan and some ex congressmen and Amnesty International delegates arrived in Egypt to voice their rejection to such military trials but they were denied access to the court although such trials are public.

Unjust Military Trial

The worst disadvantages of this military trial include the fact that its rulings can”t be challenged before a Supreme Court that observes its commitment to justice. Rulings against present and in absentia defendants are only approved by the president because he is the supreme commander of the armed forces and he can authorize an officer to approve these rulings.

The military trial is also subjected to systems and rules of the military service laws, topped by discipline and obedience that contradict with the necessities of the judicial work. The military judges are appointed temporarily for two years whuch are renewable and they may be transferred and dismissed by the Minister of Defense although the judge should never be sacked.