President Hosni Mubarak and the regime have failed, for a while now, to answer a straight-forward question that democracy activists, human rights organizations, journalists and political activists have been marveling about over the past five months: why are civilians belonging to opposition groups tried before military tribunals?
Last February, the president decided to transfer 40 members of the county’s main opposition group to military tribunals. Members and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested at dawn raids over a period of three weeks starting Dec.14 and were kept in custody. They are facing charges of money laundering and financing an outlawed organization. On Jan. 28, a court ordered their immediate release, stating that the accusations — put forward by state security — are groundless and politically motivated. Instead of adhering to the verdict, the security apparatus rearrested them. A few days later, President Mubarak decided to transfer their case to a military tribunal.
Despite the question marks this step provoked, officials never attempted justify the president’s decision. Rather, it was the government-affiliated newspapers which assumed that role.