World Bulletin/News Desk
Egypt's prosecution on Saturday referred 438 supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi to a military court over violence-related charges, judicial sources said.
One judicial source told The Anadolu Agency that prosecutor general Hisham Barakat referred 139 members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood to the military prosecution on charges of storming and burning a police station in the Upper Egyptian province of Minya last year.
"The decision to refer 139 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to a military court came over their involvement in storming and burning the Abu Qirqas police station in Minya province and the killing of three police officers there," the source, who requested anonymity, told AA.
Another source said that the Egyptian prosecution referred 299 Brotherhood members to the military court for an arson attack against government offices in the Nile Delta province of Beheira and the death of five people during acts of violence in August of last year.
The two incidents in question took place amid the violence that broke out after police dispersed two major pro-Morsi sit-ins of Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares in Cairo and Giza provinces respectively in August 2013.
The cases were referred to a military court in line with a decree issued by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in October tasking the army to guard public facilities and vital state institutions for two years, during which these facilities would be treated as military facilities.
People accused of attacking or blocking the operation of these facilities would, thereupon, be referred to military courts.
Under the decree, incidents that occurred before the law was issued can still be subject to it so long as the prosecutor general did not decide on them.
International rights watchdog Human Rights Watch warned in November that such decree risks "militarizing" the prosecution of protesters and political dissidents.
The HRW insisted that military courts, which operate under the mantle of the Defense Ministry, typically deny defendants' rights accorded by civilian courts, including the right to be informed of the charges against them and the rights to access a lawyer and to be brought promptly before a judge following arrest.
Meanwhile, another Egyptian court has cleared 126 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi of violence-related charges, a judicial source early Sunday.
According to the source, the defendants were arrested in August and September on charges of blocking roads and violating the protest law in the Nile Delta province of Kafr al-Sheikh.
Some of the defendants, the source said, are members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group.
Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, was ousted by the military in July of last year following massive opposition protests against his rule.
Ever since Morsi's overthrow, Egyptian authorities have maintained a harsh crackdown on his supporters, detaining thousands and killing hundreds.
Late last year, Egyptian authorities branded the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which Morsi hails, as a terrorist group.Last Mod: 14 Aralık 2014, 11:45