Authorities give mixed statements on prosecution of Maspero clashes perpetrators

Egyptian judicial authorities on Monday gave contradictory statements about the prosecution of those suspected to be behind the violence that erupted at a Coptic protest on Sunday.

While the justice minister said perpetrators will face military prosecution, the Public Prosecution said 15 suspects will be interrogated over the violence.

Sunday's events left 24 dead and 272 injured, according to the Health Ministry, during protests outside the Maspero state TV building in downtown Cairo.

Demonstrators were protesting the assaults on Coptic churches since the 25 January revolution, particularly the attack on a Coptic church in Aswan on 30 September.

Some protesters set fire to military armored vehicles during the encounters. Press reports said military vehicles ran over demonstrators and others were shot dead. Meanwhile, Egypt’s state TV reported that three army personnel were killed by armed protesters.

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), on Saturday decided to end military trials for civilians except as provided for by martial law. His decision followed mounting pressure by political and activist groups.

Justice Minister Abdel Aziz al-Guindi, however, said Tantawi’s decision will not be applied to the recent clashes, saying they took place within a military domain and perpetrators used gunfire against the military and unarmed citizens.

Under martial law, civilians are tried before military courts for crimes committed in camps, barracks, institutions, factories, ships, aircraft, vehicles, places or shops being used by the military for any purpose.

They can also be tried for crimes involving military equipment, missions, weapons, ammunition, documents or secrets.

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