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Egypt-Military Justice

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The Military Justice Law of 1966 superseded a code of military justice that the British enacted in 1893. Three major concepts underlay the 1966 law: military law must be consonant with the general law of the land; crimes committed by military personnel (such as theft and embezzlement) were especially serious because they could endanger national security; and the armed forces should be role models for the rest of the country and should set ethical standards by promptly punishing personnel who violate laws.

The 1966 law spelled out different legal procedures for administrative violations, misdemeanors, and felonies; this system was similar to the one used throughout the country for civilians. The military court system was similar to most Western military court systems but had courts whose size and authority varied according to the level of command. Military personnel had the right of trial before military courts even for common crimes against civilians. This arrangement, however, was under debate in the late 1980s because many civilians doubted military judges' qualifications and the efficacy of the military courts. Military courts also had jurisdiction in cases involving offenses against military personnel and property. Since 1958 the country's state of emergency has entitled the president to refer civilian cases to military courts when the offenses involved issues of national security.

The accused had the right to defense by an officer or by a civilian attorney. Verdicts, announced in open session, were not final until a higher authority approved them. The ultimate authority was the president, who could delegate his authority to the minister of defense or another official. The accused also had the right of appeal. The 1966 law outlawed cruel punishment, such as flogging, and established maximum sentences for various categories of crimes.

The 1966 law authorized the death penalty for treason, murder, and the destruction or sabotage of weapons or equipment of the armed forces. A 1970 amendment to the law defined twelve treasonable offenses that could be punished by execution. These offenses included misconduct before the enemy, surrendering or abandoning installations or troops to the enemy, and giving aid and comfort to the enemy. In addition, abetting any of the twelve treasonable crimes through error or negligence or contributing to dereliction of duty could be sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor. Confiscation of government property for private use was also punishable by life imprisonment.

Data as of December 1990

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