Egyptian authorities referred 438 supporters of former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to military tribunals Saturday in relation to violence stemming from protests in Cairo last year, security officials said.
Morsi’s followers have been the target of a relentless crackdown since ex-army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi took power in July 2013.
In the first case to be handled by the military tribunals, 139 Morsi backers are expected to stand trial over the deaths of three policemen in the southern province of Minya.
The second case will see 299 Morsi supporters tried in connection with the deaths of five civilians in clashes between Islamist protesters and government forces and the burning of the Beheira provincial government headquarters in Damanhur.
The date of the violence was August 14, 2013, the same day that saw more than 700 people killed in clashes with security forces tasked with breaking up pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo. More than 1,400 people have been killed in the crackdown that followed Morsi’s removal from power.
Thousands of civilians tried
El-Sissi issued a decree in October of this year providing for military trials for civilians suspected of carrying out attacks on the government.
Thousands of civilians have been tried in military courts since the 2011 uprising that forced the departure of Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. The trials have been widely denounced by human rights groups.
Human Rights Watch said Egypt’s military tribunals “lack even the shaky due process guarantees provided by regular courts.”
Over 15,000 people have been jailed during the crackdown following Morsi’s ouster, and hundreds sentenced to death in mass trials. Earlier this month, 188 people were sentenced to death on charges stemming from the deaths of 11 policemen.
Human rights scholar refused entry
The planned tribunals come as a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was barred from entering Cairo Saturday and deported to Germany.
Michele Dunne, a former US diplomat, was scheduled to speak at a conference organized by the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, which is primarily made up of former Egyptian diplomats. Dunne’s work is frequently critical of the Egyptian government.
Dunne tweeted her disapproval from Frankfurt, Germany.
Some Egyptians complain I don’t list enough to pro govt views. When I accept invite to conf of pro govt group they deny me entry. Go figure.
— Michele Dunne (@MicheleDDunne) December 13, 2014
This past August, Human Rights Watch officials Ken Roth and Sarah Leah Whitson were also refused entry into Egypt ahead of the planned release of a report accusing the government of potential crimes against humanity.
bw/cmk (AFP, AP)