Friday, May 20, 2011

Egyptian Military Court Hands Down Death Sentence to Teen

This week, an Egyptian military court has sentenced a 17-year-old boy to death, marking an upswing in a disturbing trend in Egyptian justice. Due to the military’s central role in ruling the country after Mubarak’s departure, those in power are increasingly turning to military tribunals to carry out civilian justice, allowing military judges to get around Egyptian civil law—e.g., sentencing a minor to death, even one implicated in a kidnapping case.

Senior officials still have the ability to go to civilian courts, have representation, and prepare a defense. Most persons in the justice system are subjected to harsh military detention, are denied the ability to choose representation, and have secret trials as short as five minutes.

Under former President Mubarak, civilians could be brought in front of a military court due to the state of emergency in place since the 70’s, but this was rarely used. Now, with the Army running the country, military courts are used with alarming frequency to punish civilians.

Some have spoken out against the system, asked judges for more time to prepare, even appealed sentences, but the system continues its work. Over 7,000 cases have been heard already since the end of January 2011, with at least five defendants per case; these numbers will cretainly increase.

(Credit: Richard Weiland)