Egypt military court orders to detain 179 protesters

Cairo: Egypt`s military prosecution today ordered the detention of 179 people for 15 days in connection with deadly clashes between anti-military protesters and soldiers that claimed two lives on Friday, amid criticism over a violent crackdown. Military police used force to disperse a protest outside the Defence Ministry on Friday, firing tear gas, water cannons, and live ammunition.

Anti-military protesters clashed with troops, leaving a soldier and another person dead and prompting the military to impose an overnight curfew. The 179 protesters, who would be detained for 15 days, have been charged with assaulting army forces, joining a group to undermine public security, assembling on public roads and hampering public transportation.

They are also charged with gathering in a military location they were prohibited from, according to a local watchdog, `The Front to Defend Egypt`s Protesters`. Following crackdown on Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the violent response of the army, and stressed "the people`s right" to demonstrate in a peaceful manner, his deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey said.

Following the breakup of the sit-in in Abbasseya, the Front to Defend Egypt`s Protesters claimed that the military had committed several violations, including random arrests of people and targeting of journalists. Reports about the number of people arrested were mixed.

Local rights group `No Military Trials for Civilians` provided the names of 329 detainees following the protests, including 18 women. The `Front to Defend Egypt`s Protesters`, on the other hand, said in a statement that around 220 people were arrested, some of whom are in hospital. It said among the arrested were 16 women. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) alleged that at least 18 journalists were assaulted, injured, or arrested over the past three days while covering the sit-in at the Defence Ministry.

"Authorities cannot stand by while journalists are being beaten at times so viciously that their lives are put at risk," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ`s Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator. "We call on the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to identify the attackers and bring them to justice immediately, as well as to release journalists in custody," he said. In a statement, the Muslim Brotherhood condemned violent tactics used by the security forces against protesters yesterday, calling on SCAF to prevent further violence.

The Brotherhood also asked the protesters to not clash with armed forces "whose job it is to secure the Department of Defence building". "Those are the same demands (of protesters) of all Egyptian people, who are determined for the presidential elections to be held on time as scheduled, in free, fair and peaceful atmosphere," it said.

Presidential hopeful Khaled Ali described the forcible breakup of the protest near the Defence Ministry as an attempt by the military council to abort the revolution and remain in power. In a statement issued by his official campaign, Ali alleged that the incidents that took place in Abbasseya were part of the scenario to abort the revolution. "The thugs who attacked protesters over the past five days should have been arrested," Ali said, adding that the attackers were not demonstrators but had been incited by the SCAF.