CAIRO: Crimes of terrorism that “threaten the safety and security of the country” may now fall under the purview of military courts, the Cabinet announced Saturday.
The announcement followed a meeting on the Friday attack in North Sinai that killed 31 soldiers and injured 31 others.
A three-month state of emergency and curfew has been implemented in the region, and military judiciary rules will be in force in those areas.
Under the Article 6 of the military law, the president has the right, if a state of emergency is in effect, to refer to a military court any of the offenses punishable under the penal code.
The new amendments would apply only to those cases related to terrorism, lawyer and member of Arabic Network for Human Rights Information Ali Atef told The Cairo Post Sunday.
“People could be arrested haphazardly,” he warned, adding then when arrests are made, innocent bystanders may also be detained.
Although Egypt’s penal already stipulates that anyone could be prosecuted by the military if he attacked military personnel or institutions, Atef said that the new regulation could further toughen punishments.
“The verdicts of such trials could be appealed according to the constitution; and if the new amendments stipulated that the verdicts are unchangeable, they could be found unconstitutional by court order,” Atef continued.
The new amendments will not be retroactively applied, he added, so former ousted President Mohamed Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood imprisoned members would not be tried before a military court.
The former interim government presided by Hazem al-Beblawy designated the Brotherhood a terrorist group Dec. 25, 2013, one day after a bomb targeted security directorate of Dakahlia in which dozens of police personnel were killed and more than 100 others injured.
Emergency state powers:
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi issued Sunday a presidential decree to grant the Prime Minister the powers of the president that concern the specializations of the Emergency Law No. 162 of 1958.
Under the law, the president has the right to place restrictions on freedom of moving and transport, to monitor all media before publication, and to withdraw gun licenses.
A long-standing state of emergency was cancelled in 2012 by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces a day before the anniversary of the January 25 Revolution, however, former interim president Adly Mansour re-passed that law after the dispersal of pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins of Rabaa and Nahdah Aug. 14, 2013.