Egypt’s public prosecutor referred on Sunday to military prosecution 58 alleged Muslim Brotherhood members who are accused of terrorism-related charges between 2013 and 2014, a step ahead of a military trial.
A statement from the prosecutor’s office said that fugitive Brotherhood leaders in Qatar and Turkey — in liaison with local middle-ranking leaders in Egypt — spearheaded assassination attacks against members of the police, army and the judiciary and carried out assaults on private and public facilities to “destabilise the country and batter its economy.”
The Egyptian constitution allows civilians charged with attacking military installations or personnel to be tried before military tribunals.
But Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi expanded in October 2014 the jurisdiction of military courts to allow them to try civilians accused of acts against state facilities and blocking roads, amid a crackdown on Islamists that has also included liberal activists.
The move came in the face of some of the worst violence targeting security forces since the 2013 overthrow of Morsi following mass protests against his yearlong rule.
The 58 face charges of attempted murder of members of the police, possessing weapons, sabotaging public buildings and property, resisting authorities, and vandalism, the prosecution statement said.
The accusations stem from violence in Giza following the violent dispersal of protest camps by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in August 2013 until October 2014.
Thirty-seven of the defendants are already in custody.
The public prosecutor referred the case on Sunday to the chief military prosecutor who is in charge of sending cases to military tribunals.
Hundreds of civilian cases have been referred to military court since the 2011 uprising that toppled veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak. The practice has faced strong opposition from rights campaigners and pro-democracy advocates.
The Brotherhood has been designated a terrorist organisation, with authorities killing hundreds and jailing thousands of its members. The Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful political activism.
Military courts in Egypt are believed to process cases faster than civilian ones.
Last month, Egypt executed six members of a Sinai-based militant group who were convicted by a military court over a gunfight that killed two army officers in a village north of Cairo.