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Action Alert: Egypt – 22 Civilian detainees in Hizbullah case tried under Emergency Law

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Detainees accused of belonging to Hizbullah are tried under Emergency law.

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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10 December 2009

Action Alert: Egypt – 22 Civilian detainees in Hizbullah case tried under Emergency Law

Contents
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample letter


1. Summary

Detainees accused of belonging to Hizbullah are currently being tried under Emergency law, which has been in place since Hosni Mubarak took office from 1981.

The twenty two detainees (some reports mention a total of twenty six detainees) were presented before the Supreme State Security Emergency Court, where no right to appeal exists unless the President himself intervenes. The next court hearing will take place on the 26th of December 2009.

IHRC is deeply concerned with the trial of civilians before the Military Court as well as the alleged torture and incommunicado detention by the Egyptian authorities. We urge all campaigners to write to their Egyptian Ambassadors and Ministers of Foreign Affairs requesting them to work towards providing safeguards for a fair trial in a civil court.


2. Background

On April 2009, a case was filed against 22 individuals originally from Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon and Palestine, for providing aid to Gaza during the December/January Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip. The men are accused of planning assassinations and possessing weapons.

The defence team appealed against the trial of civilians in a Military Court due to the nature of the charge. The defence team stressed that it is not within the jurisdiction of the Emergency law to try civilians before Military Courts and requested that the defendants are tried before the Appeal Court in Sinai where the offence supposedly took place instead of Cairo.

Montasser al-Zayyat, one of the defence lawyers, told Aljazeera Arabic that: “The case is fabricated and lacks evidence.  There is a clear attempt to make up evidence, because the detainees have been prevented from speaking to their lawyers and families for a period of five months.”

Mr Al Zayyat’s statement was supported by a letter believed to be smuggled from the detainees where they said:“...meanwhile, we are threatened with detention if we tell the truth in Court; and until now, no lawyers or family members are  allowed to visit us in prison.”

According to the same letter detainees were tortured and threatened:  “State Security Investigations detained and tortured us using various methods: some of us were electrocuted all over our body, unexceptionally, some of us were subject to gas that affect the nerves, some of us were prevented from sleeping and had to stand for long periods throughout the night while being threatened that our mothers, sisters and children will be tortured in front of us.”

“We demand a fair trial and want real safeguards that this trial will be fair. We want to be seen by doctors who do not work for the government to assess our injuries which we still have, ten months after being tortured.”

The defence lawyer believes that the treatment and accusations against the men are politically motivated.

3. Action required

Write to the Egyptian ambassador and the foreign minister in your country, requesting them to urge the Egyptian government to investigate this case and to provide real guarantees for a fair trial. UK campaigners will find the appropriate address, fax and email on the sample letter below.

a) Minister of foreign affairs in your country.

b) Egyptian Ambassador in your locality: Link


4. Sample letter
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A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.

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(UK campaigners can write using the address supplied below, Email: milibandd@parliament.uk, Tel: 0191 456 8910)

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

Dear Mr Miliband,

Re: Civilian detainees in Hizbullah case tried under Emergency Law

IHRC is deeply concerned with the trial of civilians before the Military Court as well as the alleged torture and incommunicado detention by the Egyptian authorities. On April 2009, a case was filed against 22 individuals originally from Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon and Palestine, for providing aid to Gaza during the December/January Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip. The men are accused of, planning assassinations and possessing weapons.

The defence team appealed against the trial of civilians in a Military Court due to the criminal nature of the charge. The defence team also stressed that it is not within the jurisdiction of the Emergency law to try civilians before Military Courts and requested that the defendants are tried before the Appeal Court in Sinai where the offence supposedly took place instead of Cairo.

According to a letter believed to be smuggled from the detainees, they said:“...meanwhile, we are threatened with detention if we tell the truth in Court; and until now, no lawyers or family members are  allowed to visit us in prison. State Security Investigations detained and tortured us using various methods: some of us were electrocuted all over our body, unexceptionally, some of us were subject to gas that affect the nerves, some of us were prevented from sleeping and had to stand for long periods throughout the night while being threatened that our mothers, sisters and children will be tortured in front of us. We demand a fair trial and want real safeguards that this trial will be fair. We want to be seen by doctors who do not work for the government to assess our injuries which we still have, ten months after being tortured.”

I urge you to raise this with your counterpart as it is a deeply disturbing case, because not only are these individuals claiming to be tortured they’ll also be denied a fair trial.

 I look forward to hearing back from you regarding this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]



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(UK campaigners can write using the address supplied below Fax:+44-20-73553568 and +44-20-74911542, Email:info@egyptianconsulate.co.uk)

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

His Excellency Ambassador Mr. Hatem Sayef Al-Nasr
26 South Street
W1Y 6DD
London
United Kingdom

Your Excellency Mr. Hatem Sayef Al-Nasr,

As Salam alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatu

Re: Civilian detainees in Hizbullah case tried under Emergency Law

IHRC is deeply concerned with the trial of civilians before the Military Court as well as the alleged torture and incommunicado detention by the Egyptian authorities. On April 2009, a case was filed against 22 individuals originally from Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon and Palestine, for providing aid to Gaza during the December/January Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip. The men are accused of, planning assassinations and possessing weapons.

The defence team appealed against the trial of civilians in a Military Court due to the criminal nature of the charge. The defence team also stressed that it is not within the jurisdiction of the Emergency law to try civilians before Military Courts and requested that the defendants are tried before the Appeal Court in Sinai where the offence supposedly took place instead of Cairo.

According to a letter believed to be smuggled from the detainees, they said:“...meanwhile, we are threatened with detention if we tell the truth in Court; and until now, no lawyers or family members are  allowed to visit us in prison. State Security Investigations detained and tortured us using various methods: some of us were electrocuted all over our body, unexceptionally, some of us were subject to gas that affect the nerves, some of us were prevented from sleeping and had to stand for long periods throughout the night while being threatened that our mothers, sisters and children will be tortured in front of us. We demand a fair trial and want real safeguards that this trial will be fair. We want to be seen by doctors who do not work for the government to assess our injuries which we still have, ten months after being tortured.”

I urge you to raise this up with your government as this case will affect the international image of Egypt on the world stage especially when it comes to providing access to due process and preserving human rights.

I look forward to your response on this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]
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For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below

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For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below.

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Holy Qur'an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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