This isn’t mar­tial law, Morsi spokesman says

Se­cu­rity mea­sures are for Satur­day vote, he says, but some are skep­ti­cal.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By David D. Kirk­patrick

cAIRO — A day af­ter Pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi for­mally di­rected the mil­i­tary to help keep pub­lic or­der and au­tho­rized sol­diers to ar­rest civil­ians, a spokesman Mon­day sought to draw dis­tinc­tions be­tween the or­der and the forms of mar­tial law that the Egyp­tian army had pre­vi­ously im­posed.

The spokesman, Khaled al-Qaz­zaz, said the pres­i­dent had called upon the mil­i­tary for the lim­ited pur­pose of pro­tect­ing polling sta­tions dur­ing Satur­day’s con­sti­tu­tional ref­er­en­dum. He also said the pres­i­dent had in­structed the army to re­fer any civil­ians ar­rested by sol­diers to a civil­ian court for trial, in­stead of mil­i­tary tri­bunals, re­vers­ing the blan­ket au­tho­riza­tions that the Egyp­tian mil­i­tary has long de­manded when it takes on a polic­ing role.

“What the pres­i­dent did with the Cab­i­net is, any­one ar­rested will be re­ferred to a nor­mal ju­di­cial process and it will go to a nor­mal civil­ian court,” al-Qaz­zaz said. “There will be no mil­i­tary tri­als.”

End­ing mil­i­tary tri­als was a ral­ly­ing cry of the op­po­si­tion when the coun­cil was in charge, but it was not im­me­di­ately clear Mon­day how the in­struc­tions al-Qaz­zaz de­scribed might fit within the usual rules of the Egyp­tian mil­i­tary.

Heba Mo­rayef, a re­searcher with Hu­man Rights Watch, noted that the text of the or­der al­lowed the mil­i­tary to con­tinue tak­ing civil­ians to mil­i­tary courts.

“Had he wanted to,” Mo­rayef said, “Pres­i­dent Morsi could have stip­u­lated that the mil­i­tary’s ju­ris­dic­tion would have been lim­ited in this case and that ev­ery civil­ian will be re­ferred to a civil­ian court, but he chose not to.”

She also noted that the draft con­sti­tu­tion specif­i­cally al­lows for the mil­i­tary to con­tinue bring­ing civil­ians to mil­i­tary courts for trial if they dis­obey a mil­i­tary author­ity.

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