CAIRO: The Military court acquitted on Wednesday 40 protesters arrested on June 28 during clashes with police forces, after 50 days of detention in military prison.
The court also suspended six-month prison sentences handed down to Hassan Mahmoud and Karim Sayed, who were arrested in downtown Cairo on Aug. 2 from two different places and faced charges of insulting the military.
According to Mahmoud’s brother, he was “randomly arrested while getting out of Sadat Metro Station to buy shoes," he said at a press conference Saturday.
"He was not chanting or anything, and he was beaten up by the military police inside the courtroom for talking with his lawyer," he said, adding that Sayed was arrested hours later.
The ruling military council was criticized for discriminating among protesters, only releasing well-known activists in response to media campaigns. Activist Loai Nagati, arrested on June 28 but later released on health grounds, was pardoned by the council in a statement released last week.
Blogger Maikel Nabil, who is currently serving a three-year prison sentence by a military court, began a hunger strike Tuesday against what he claims is discrimination against him.
Nabil, who was charged with spreading false information after writing a blog post critical of the army, criticized the amnesty given to activists Asmaa Mahfouz and Nagati, compared to the treatment meted out to him.
"My detention inside the military prison was a humiliating experience; I was beaten and others were sexually harassed, not to mention the detainees’ horrible health conditions," Nagati said in a press conference held last Saturday.
"There is a kind of discrimination among civilian detainees; I received amnesty although I face the same charges faced by the 40 detainees arrested with me during the clashes," he added.
Activist and member of the "No to Military Trials" campaign, Mona Seif, told Daily News Egypt that such concessions made by the ruling military council are a result of the continuous pressure on them to end military trials.
State-run daily Al-Ahram reported on Tuesday that the military court said that 24 cases were not in its jurisdiction, raising speculation that the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) might be considering ending military trials soon. Seif, however, remained skeptical.
"I learned not to believe leaks by the media until I see official statements from the SCAF, although I doubt SCAF will end military trials completely," she said.
"SCAF may stop referring civilians to military trials in the future, but I doubt they will refer the old cases of nearly 12,000 civilians to civilian courts," she added.
One of the protesters released is mass communication graduate Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, founder of the Arab Liberation Movement formed after Jan. 25.
Abdel Aziz was covering the clashes on June 29 when he was arrested by military police, his phone was broken and was taken to military prison where was detained for 50 days.
"Mahmoud will have iftar with his family today for the first time. Thanks for everyone who supported Mahmoud and all who were tried in military prisons. We will continue until military trials for civilians stop," said the Facebook page created in support of Abdel Aziz.