Egypt Charges Soldiers in Maspero Massacre of Coptic Christians

Egypt’s Supreme Military Court has charged three soldiers with involuntary manslaughter for their involvement with the October Maspero Massacre that resulted in the deaths of dozens of people, most of them believed to be Christians.

The three soldiers are accused of killing 14 peaceful protesters at the Oct. 9 protests in Cairo by running their tanks (Armored Personnel Carriers) into crowds.

The defendants include two 21-year-olds, Mahmoud Suleiman and Karam Hamed, and 22-year-old Mahmoud Taha.

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According to the Egyptian Independent, military prosecutors say the soldiers "did not bear in mind their responsibilities as drivers of military armored vehicles," and "drove the vehicles haphazardly, in a way that was not appropriate on a road packed with protesters."

On Oct. 9, Christians and secular activists alike had gathered in Cairo to protest the burning of a Coptic Church in Southern Aswan, which took place on Sept. 30.

The protests prove to be one of the most violent clashes between military and civilians since the Arab Spring uprisings in February.

Soldiers allegedly practiced brute violence against the protesters, killing 27 of them as they drove tanks into crowds and, as some reports claim, fired live rounds into crowds. About 300 others were injured during the melee.

Activists still argue that the military must be held accountable for the Maspero Massacre violence.

Prominent blogger and political activist Alaa Abd El Fattah, who was arrested along with 27 Coptic Christians for allegedly inciting violence at the protest, was finally released this past Sunday.

"Our role now is not to prove my innocence and that of my colleagues, it is to prosecute the real assailants," Fattah said upon his release, according to the Egypt Independent. 

According to human rights organization the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), this court case reveals the continued violence employed by the Egyptian military on protesters.

"Military judiciary ignored 14 martyrs shot by live ammunition including martyr Mina Daniel and charged the three soldiers with manslaughter, which lacks the minimum level of guarantees for seriousness and justice in a fair trial,” EIPR said.

"It is a continuation of the trend of the ruling military council of denying any responsibility for the crime," the group added.

The soldiers' trial was adjourned until Jan. 8.

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