Egypt To Stop Trying Civilians In Military Court

Sep 13, 2011
Originally published on September 13, 2011 7:47 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Meaningful qualification there, saying that most of those shots in other parts of Kabul seem to be wild shots that miss the embassy. We're also following the upheavals in Egypt, where last winter's revolution was only the beginning of change. The military - after Hosni Mubarak's fall - replaced civilian courts with courts of its own, and military justice has proved to be harsher. The military says it will end civilian trials in military courts, but many activists doubt that. Here's NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting in foreign language)

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: One of protestors is Mona Seif, who works for the Egyptian advocacy group No Military Trials. She says while many here hope the military will follow through on its pledge to stop the trials, it's not enough.

MONA SEIF: We are trying to shift the focus more and more to those who have already been sentenced, because we do not want to wake up, you know, in two weeks and find that they have put an end to these trials of civilians, but nobody - but people forgot about those who got sentenced.

SARHADDI NELSON: Shahira Abouelleil of the group No Military Trials claims some families of those who've been rounded up were given a more sinister reason.

SHAHIRA ABOUELLEIL: And they have said this to several families. They have said that we want to terrorize the nation back into submission or back into a disciplined state. And so it doesn't really matter if there are plenty of innocent bystanders. It's sort of a - something to scare everyone. So if I take 12,000 people and I throw them in prison, even if they're innocent, that will scare the rest of the population.

SARHADDI NELSON: While the military under public pressure has freed other activists, Sanad is still awaiting an appeal hearing on November 1st. Shahira Abouelleil of No Military Trials says that's because the military is trying to make an example of him.

ABOUELLEIL: They have beef with him from before. He came out and blogged against the draft. He doesn't think that people should be forced into the army.

SARHADDI NELSON: She adds the military feels it can get away with holding Sanad because of his pro-Israel stance, which makes him unpopular with many Egyptians.

MARK NABIL SANAD: (Foreign language spoken)

SARHADDI NELSON: His younger brother, Mark Nabil Sanad, says he and his family worry Maikel will die before his hearing.

NABIL SANAD: (Foreign language spoken)

SARHADDI NELSON: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Cairo.

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