Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Verdict: Military Tribunals For Civilians "Unconstitutional"

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

In a landmark verdict yesterday, the Egyptian State Administrative court acquitted 33 senior Muslim Brotherhood members and deemed that referring civilians to military tribunals is unconstitutional:

The verdict is a "victory to the Brotherhoods and gives hope for better trial conditions for its members in the future,” Abdel Moniem Abdel Maqsoud, defense lawyer in the case told The Daily Star Egypt.

“I really hope this verdict gets implemented. The Egyptian judiciary system must immediately stop referring civilians-whether members of the Brotherhood or not- to martial courts,” Maqsoud added.

Since their arrest and freezing of their financial assets in late 2006, the detainees have been acquitted by civilian courts twice.

While the official charges against the defendants have not been made public, the Brotherhood’s Ibrahim El-Houdaiby argues that charges involved money laundering, terrorism, and ‘attempts to revive the ideas of an outlawed organization’.

“The accusations were equally ridiculous as the arrest decision. This trial has been politically motivated inside and out,” El-Houdaiby to The Daily Star Egypt.

While this verdict is definitely positive, the anti-terror legislation passed as part of the recent constitutional amendments still allows the government to detain anyone they deem a terrorist, under their very broad definition. And the government has set a precedent of doing whatever it wants anyway, so it will be interesting to see what affect this verdict has, if any.

Update: The government, of course, is seeking to overturn the verdict.

Update 2: Two more Brotherhood MP's have their immunity lifted.


Military Tribunals For MB Members

Mubarak Wants Military Appeals Court

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