Egypt refers 58 Islamists to military trial

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Egypt on Sunday referred 58 Islamists suspected of links with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to a military court over alleged “terrorist attacks” against the police and public property.

The authorities have waged a deadly crackdown against the Brotherhood since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, and accuse the movement of being behind attacks against the security forces.

Prosecutors accuse the 58 Islamists, 37 of whom are in custody, of working for the Brotherhood and carrying out “terrorist attacks” between August 2013 and October 2014.

They were charged with “attempted murder of police officers, acts of sabotage against public buildings and property, resisting security forces, and vandalism,” a prosecution statement said.

It said the accused wanted to deal a blow to the Egyptian economy, already battered by years of political turmoil, and sow terror among the people.

The Brotherhood, which scored major political gains after the 2011 ouster of former autocratic president Hosni Mubarak, was blacklisted as a “terrorist group” after Morsi’s overthrow.

Hundreds of its supporters have been killed in the crackdown since the Islamist’s ouster, while more than 40,000 have been detained, according to Human Rights Watch.

Dozens have also been sentenced to death after speedy mass trials.

Hundreds of civilians have been tried before military tribunals since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who ousted Morsi, issued a decree in October allowing military trials of civilians suspected of attacking state infrastructure.

The decree placed state infrastructure including electricity towers, major thoroughfares and bridges under military protection for two years, allowing the army to try anyone suspected of attacking such facilities.

Jihadists have stepped up attacks against security forces in retaliation for the crackdown, leaving dead hundreds of policemen and soldiers.

The authorities accuse the Brotherhood of carrying out these attacks. The Islamist movement denies these charges.

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