The public prosecutor referred former President Mohamed Morsi, Supreme Guide of the ousted Muslim Brotherhood group Mohamed Badie, his deputy Khairat al-Shater and 196 others to military trial on Tuesday. They are due to appear in front of a military court on February 23.
The defendants are accused of violent acts in Suez, including burning military vehicles and churches following the dispersal of the Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda protests in August 2013.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a new law on October 27 expanding the reach of military courts after a deadly attack in North Sinai killed 33 security personnel two days earlier. Amendments to the Military Judiciary Law allow crimes committed at, on, or toward military camps, barracks, institutions, factories, ships, planes, vehicles, spaces, or shops to be prosecuted by military courts. The new amendments to the law vastly expanded what falls under military property to include state properties and institutions.
Human Rights Watch released a statement in November roundly condemning the law, saying it risks “militarizing the prosecution of protesters and other government opponents.”
The statement added that the law “greatly expands the jurisdiction of military courts, giving them their widest legal authority since the birth of Egypt’s modern republic in 1952.”
Morsi and Badie are defendants in several other prominent trials. Badie has been sentenced to death in two separate cases over the course of 2014 – he was among the 180 sentenced to death for violence against police and civilians in June, and was sentenced to death by the Banha Criminal Court, along with nine other defendants, for inciting violence in Qalyub in July.
Morsi and Badie, along with 34 others from the banned Muslim Brotherhood, are accused of crimes related to espionage and conspiring with foreign entities. The prosecution has accused the defendants of revealing national security secrets and coordinating with jihadi groups in Egypt to prepare for terrorist operations in the country.