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40 civilians referred to military trial in Minya

Forty people were referred to military court in the southern city of Minya, 25 of whom are to be tried in absentia, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm, who cited the defendants’ lawyer Khalid al-Komy.

The first court session is scheduled for August 8, the military prosecution announced on Thursday.

The defendants were arrested in the summer of 2015 when authorities allegedly discovered a weapons factory close to the city of Beni Mazar in Minya governorate. They were accused of belonging to a banned organization, manufacturing weapons and bombs with the intent to vandalize police and public property, as well as targeting churches and security forces.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a law in October 2014 extending the Armed Forces’ authority to protect public institutions and buildings, including electricity stations, gas pipelines, railways, roads and “any other public facilities and institutions.” Human rights groups have criticized the law, which expands the jurisdiction of Egypt’s military courts. Since the January 25 revolution, authorities have increasingly referred civilians to military trials.

In addition, both the Constitution and the military judiciary law allow civilians to be tried in military courts if they have committed crimes involving property belonging to the Armed Forces.

Last week, the public prosecution referred 235 football fans to military prosecution, as they had been arrested during a football match at the Borg al-Arab stadium, which is owned by the Armed Forces.