New Delhi, July 20 Egyptian President Er Mohammed Morsi has ordered the release of 572 people detained by the military since last year's uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. According to the Egyptian official MENA news agency, Er Morsi, who was sworn in on June 30, 2012 as Egypt's first elected civilian president, "issued an order to pardon 572 people convicted by the military justice".
President Er Morsi had ordered the formation of a committee to review the cases of civilians tried by the military. This was in line with Er Morsi’s assertions made at Tahrir Square on June 29, a day before official oath as the President. A total of 11,879 Egyptians have been detained by the military since last year's uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, according to figures issued by the committee. Of these, 9714 have since been released.
Activists and international rights groups have repeatedly called for the end of military trials of civilians. "International law is crystal-clear on this: no civilian, regardless of the crime, should be tried by a military court," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said this week. She urged Morsi to take a "principled human rights stance and pardon all civilians convicted by military tribunals".
But the president has been locked in a power struggle with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces which issued a constitutional declaration - that acts as a temporary charter - giving the military sweeping powers. "Military trials and arrests of civilians by the military have continued despite the June 30 handover to civilian authority," Human Rights Watch said.
The committee formed by Morsi does not however have the mandate to look into cases of military trials and arrests of civilians after the handover date.