Three workers from the Helwan for Engineering Industries accused of vandalizing factory properties in an attempt to deliberately stop production, and exposing "secret information" were ruled innocent by a military court. Other detainees however were issued sentences ranging from six months to a year with one 5 year sentence for another.
The case was triggered after an explosion in the factory took place in late July killing a worker and injuring others, prompting workers to protest to the safety standards of the factory.
The controversial case is the first military trial to be held against workers as a result of their protest since 1952 where in 1952 two workers were sentenced to death after being accused of plotting to topple the revolution.
According to Masry Alyoum Khaled Ali head of the Egyptian Center for Social, Economic and Cultural Rights said that three main arguments were used stressing that the workers had no intention or knowledge of revealing classified information about a military establishment.
“We spoke about the non-constitutionality of the military court law, whose amendment was directly sent to the People Assembly for approval before going through the Shura Council,” he said.
“We also reminded the court that strikes are no longer criminalized by the law, after Egypt’s ratification of the Convention of Social and Economic Rights and in light of the precedent set by the dropping of charges by supreme state security courts,” said Ali. In 1986, major charges held by a supreme state security court against railway workers were dropped.
Ali added that the workers had no intention or knowledge of revealing classified information about a military establishment.
Workers of military production have always been subject to civilian courts and the transfer to the military tribunals is not normal. The exceptional military tribunal's verdicts can only be appealed through a high military appeals court and rulings can only be overturned by the President.