Civilians go before Egyptian military tribunal

August 22, 2010 20:59

CAIRO — Eight workers who protested poor safety conditions at a factory making Egyptian warplanes were brought before a military tribunal Sunday in a rare case of civilians facing military justice in Egypt, a labor rights group said.

Military tribunals normally handle cases related to terrorism and national security, and sentences are swift and harsh.

The workers are accused of attacking the factory director in response to an explosion of a gas canister that killed a colleague and wounded several others this month. They have also been charged with disclosing military secrets for allegedly discussing the explosion and their protest with news media.

A spokesman for the Center for Trade Union and Workers' Services, Tarek Zakriya, said workers scuffled with the factory director during a strike to protest deteriorating safety conditions at the Helwan Engineering Industries Company.

The facility just south of Cairo, also known as Military Factory 99, is one of Egypt's largest army factories. Workers there make and assemble warplanes.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday. Military trials are closed to media and there was no official comment on the proceedings.

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