Egypt military court verdicts can now be appealed
CAIRO - Egypt said Sunday that verdicts handed down by military courts, which under the new constitution are allowed to try civilians, can now be appealed.
The provision allowing civilians to be judged by the military has faced stiff opposition from rights activists.
Thousands of cases involving civilians have been referred to military courts since the early 2011 uprising that toppled long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak.
More than 12,000 cases were referred to military courts that year alone when a military junta assumed power after the fall of Mubarak, according to campaign group No To Military Trials For Civilians.
On Sunday, interim president Adly Mansour ordered the creation of a higher court to hear appeals against verdicts delivered by military tribunals, a statement from his office said.
The new constitution adopted in January stipulates that civilians can face military trials in cases involving direct attacks on military personnel or military installations.
But rights groups say this could violate a defendant's right to an impartial trial.
Dozens of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi have also been referred to military trials since he was deposed by the army in July.
Military tribunals have also passed verdicts in recent months against three Egyptian journalists.
In November, journalist Mohammed Sabry was given a six-month suspended sentence for photographing army checkpoints in the restive Sinai Peninsula near the border with the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
A month earlier, Ahmed Abu Derra was handed down a similar sentence for reporting without authorisation in a military zone, also in Sinai.
Also in October, a Cairo military court sentenced another journalist, Hatem Abul Nour, to a year in jail for impersonating an army officer over the phone.