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Egypt president releases 572 prisoners convicted by military tribunals

Newly elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Thursday ordered the release of 572 people who had been convicted by the military. Morsi, Egypt's first elected civilian president, had formed a committee to review all the cases of prisoners who had been sentenced by military courts since the beginning of the revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile; JURIST news archive] last year. Activists and international rights groups have repeatedly called for Egypt to end the practice of civilian trials by military commissions [AFP report], which have been criticized for not meeting the requirements of independence and impartiality. Morsi also commuted the life sentences of 16 individuals [Egypt State Information Service report] to seven years imprisonment. Earlier this month Morsi appointing a fact-finding committee to investigate the deaths of protesters [JURIST report] in last year's demonstrations. 9,714 individuals have been released out of the 11,879 Egyptians detained by the military since last year's uprising.

Earlier this month, a few days after he was sworn in, Morsi issued a decree [JURIST reports] calling the dissolved Egyptian parliament back into session, despite a previous ruling by the country's Supreme Constitutional Court [official website] dissolving it due to its finding that one-third of its members were elected illegally [JURIST report]. The court suspended Morsi's decree two days later, after which Morsi vowed that he would respect the ruling [JURIST reports]. A court struck down [JURIST report] a government decree in June that restored broad arrest powers to Egyptian military officials. Days before its dissolution, the Egyptian parliament elected a new constitutional council after lawmakers finally reached an agreement [JURIST reports] on the political composition of the council. In April the country's Administrative Court effectively suspended [JURIST report] the work of the 100-member council responsible for drafting the country's new constitution after ruling in favor of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the formation of the panel.

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