Egypt tries civilian Islamist on Gaza tunnels in military court

Rights groups say the Egyptian authorities should not send civilians to military courts, where defendants have fewer protections and no right of appeal.

Egypt tries civilian Islamist on Gaza tunnels in military court


Egyptian authorities sent a leading Islamist to military trial on Tuesday on a charge of crossing into Gaza through a border tunnel last month, judicial sources and the man's wife said.

Gazans live under heavy Israel siege for a long time and Egypt still insists on not to opening the only Gaza border crossing in a move condemned by Muslims around the world in protests, leaving Gazans desperate to digging tunnels underground and risking their lives.

Magdi Ahmed Hussein, who was secretary-general of the small Labour Party, was arrested on Saturday.

He was questioned by military prosecutors in the north Sinai town of El Arish and will go on trial in the Suez Canal town of Ismailia on Thursday, the judicial sources said.

Hussein's wife, Nagla el-Qalyoubi, told Reuters by telephone that he had gone to Gaza to show solidarity with the people of the impoverished coastal strip after three weeks of Israeli attacks which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians.

She said he stayed in Gaza one week, meeting prominent people including senior members of Hamas, which controls the territory.

Rights groups say the Egyptian authorities should not send civilians to military courts, where defendants have fewer protections and no right of appeal.

Hussein will also be the most prominent person to face trial in connection with the tunnels dug between Gaza and Egypt.

The tunnels carry people and goods into Gaza, circumventing the blockade imposed by Israel with the help of the Egyptian government. Israel claims they also carry weapons, and has attacked them both during and since its Gaza offensive, which ended with a ceasefire that took effect on Jan. 18.

Hussein is a frequent speaker at anti-government rallies in Egypt. He was editor of opposition Labour Party newspaper al-Shaab in the 1990s until the authorities closed it down and froze the Islamist party's activities in 2000.

Reuters

Last Mod: 04 Şubat 2009, 09:03
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