Parliament repeals law allowing president to refer civilians to military court

The People's Assembly's Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee approved in a meeting on Monday the cancellation of a military law that empowers the country's president to refer any crime to a military tribunal. The removal of Article No. 6 of the military judiciary law means military courts will no longer have the power to refer crimes to their jurisdiction on a case by case basis.

The committee decided to postpone discussing the removal of Article No. 48 of the same law, which stipulates that judicial authorities, including military courts, are exclusively responsible for deciding whether a felony falls within their jurisdiction.

The committee has also requested it be given a week to consider Parliament members’ demands that all military verdicts issued against civilians be dropped.

General Mamdouh Shahin, a member of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, told the committee that Article No. 6 had been imposed on military leaders under former President Hosni Mubarak, adding that military officials had long called for reconsidering the article. However, he called for finding an alternative that enables the country's president to handle potential threats to national security.

Commenting on the request to revoke military court verdicts against civilians, Shahin said such a move would be dangerous, adding that those verdicts had been made in accordance with the law.

As for Article No. 48, Shahin said it is related to a number of crimes that include weapons smuggling which, he said, requires it to be restricted rather than cancelled.

MP Mohamed al-Omda, the committee's deputy chairman, objected to retaining Article No. 48 in its current form.

Meanwhile, the People’s Assembly's majority leader, Hussein Ibrahim, said the military is trying to disavow its use of Article No. 6. He emphasized the importance of the Parliament members’ demand that cases handled by military courts be referred to the civilian judiciary and that the "politically-motivated" military verdicts against civilians be dropped.

Ibrahim said that media mistook their call to grant amnesty to civilians prosecuted by the military for a call to pardon former regime figures detained on corruption charges.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm



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