The Islamist Anti-Coup Alliance condemned the one-year prison sentence of five Building and Development Party leaders by a military court, in a Tuesday statement on their official page.
The five include secretary general Alaa Abu El-Nasser and leading former parliamentary party member Safwat Abdel Ghany.
The alliance referred to the case as the “continuation of the militarisation of the state.. and human rights violations” in Egypt. It condemned “in the strongest words” the continuation of military trials for civilians and considers their verdicts “illegal and unconstitutional”.
The statement further stated that military trials undermine the rule of law and independence of the judiciary, and that “repression ignites revolutions”. The alliance affirmed that it would stick to its path to “restore the 25 January Revolution… bring down the military coup” and hold “murderers and criminals” accountable.
The 2014 constitution rules out military trials for civilians, except in cases where the crime “represent a direct assault against military facilities, military barracks, or whatever falls under their authority, alongside assaults on military or border zones, and military institutions, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, documents, secrets, public funds, or factories.”
This constitutional article has drawn widespread criticism, both inside Egypt as well as internationally. The activist group No to Military Trials for Civilians has campaigned forcefully against the article and calls for its revocation. The group estimates on its website that over 12,000 civilians have been sentenced by military courts, a large part of them arrested during demonstrations.
The five Building and Development Party leaders are convicted of entering a prohibited military zone, according to the website of the party. They were arrested while trying to cross the Egyptian-Sudanese border through a military zone in July 2014. The five reportedly received an EGP 500 fine each, in addition to the prison sentence.
The Building and Development Party is initiated by and considered the political wing of the Islamist group Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya. The party is aligned with several other Islamist parties in the Anti-Coup Alliance, which rejects the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 and has staged regular protests against what they describe as the “military regime” ever since.
The party is regarded more open to reconciliation with the current regime than other alliance members and dropped the demand to reinstate Morsi as president in an early stage. However, the party faces possible dissolution over terrorism charges as the Political Parties Affairs Committee filed a case to the prosecution last week.