PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 12/04/99
27 January 1999
Further information on UA 172/98 (MDE 12/32/98, 9 June 1998) and follow-up
(MDE 12/39/98, 8 July 1998) - Health concern / Ill-treatment / Possible
prisoner of conscience and new concern: Legal concern
EGYPT’Abd al-Mun’im Gamal al-Din ‘Abd al-Mun’im, free-lance journalist, aged
Amnesty International fears that ‘Abd al-Mun’im Gamal al-Din ‘Abd al-Mun’im,
a civilian whose trial before a Military Court in Heikstep
(east of Cairo), is expected to start within days, will
not receive a fair hearing.
Trials of civilians before Military Courts violate international standards;
defence lawyers are given insufficient time to prepare
cases, there is no right of appeal, and sentences are
subject to review only by a Military Appeals’ Bureau -
a body composed of military judges which is not a court
- before going to the president for ratification.
‘Abd al-Mun’im Gamal al-Din ‘Abd al-Mun’im has been charged, with 106 others,
in the "Returnees from Albania" case (so-called because some of the defendants
were forcibly returned from Albania to stand trial [see Extra 53/98, 4 August
1998 and follow up]). Although the Military Prosecutor has not provided details
of the charges, they are known to be accused of supporting militant Islamist
groups active in Egypt during the time many of the defendants were in prison
- some, including ‘Abd al-Mun’im Gamal al-Din ‘Abd al-Mun’im, have been in
prison for up to eight years.
In July 1993 the UN Human Rights Committee said of the trial of civilians by
military courts in Egypt "military courts should not have the faculty to try
cases which do not refer to offences committed by members of the armed forces
in the course of their duties".
Amnesty International believes ‘Abd al-Mun’im Gamal al-Din ‘Abd al-Mun’im is
a possible prisoner of conscience detained for journalistic and political
activities critical of the government. He was one of many students who was
briefly arrested and tortured in 1989 for activities on behalf of Islamist
‘Abd al-Mun’im Gamal al-Din ‘Abd al-Mun’im was arrested in February 1993. In
October that year he was acquitted by the Supreme Military Court on charges
of being a member of the Islamist group: Tala’i al-Fatah (Vanguards of the
Conquest). Instead of being released, however, he was immediately issued with
a new detention order and placed in a high security prison until 1995. He is
currently detained at Istiqbal Tora, a closed prison which does not allow family
visits. His long stay in prison, where conditions are appalling, have caused
his health to suffer.
In June 1998, ‘Abd al-Mun’im Gamal al-Din ‘Abd al-Mun’im went on a hunger strike
in protest at his almost five-year illegal detention. For more information
on his case see Amnesty International report “Egypt: Human Rights Defenders
under threat, AI Index MDE 12/15/94.