CAIRO: The International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed receipt of a case filed by Egyptian citizen Iman Elgebaly against Egypt’s ruling military council, accusing them of committing crimes against humanity.
Elgebaly, an Egyptian living in Norway, told Daily News Egypt Sunday that she witnessed clashes in Abbaseya last July when Tahrir protesters were attacked by thugs allegedly supported by military police officers while peacefully marching towards the Ministry of Defense.
The clashes left one dead and hundreds injured.
"I was living outside Egypt when the revolution started in January, but I’ve been back regularly since then. From observing the comic trial of Mubarak and other ousted regime officials, I cannot trust the Egyptian judiciary at all," Elgebaly said.
Elgebaly started a lobby group of Egyptians across Europe and pressured Amnesty International Office in Norway to investigate violence against protesters in Mohamed Mahmoud Street last November.
The violence left over 40 dead, hundreds injured, and witnessed an excessive use of potent teargas bombs said to have a fatal effect on protesters.
"My case file included Amnesty reports, documentations of the clashes, testimonies of the families of the martyrs and the injured, and YouTube videos," she said, adding that an appointment to discuss the case with the ICC Prosecutor will be set in four weeks.
"This communication had been duly entered in the Communications Register of the Office. We will give a consideration to this communication, as appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court," said a letter sent by the ICC to Elgebaly, who had filled the case using her married name, Iman Haust.
In an email sent to ICC titled "They Kill Us in Egypt" Elgebaly listed the names of the 19 members of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) accusing them of committing crimes against humanity.
"They are the ultimate authority in a country ruled by a corrupt military
regime for 60 years," Elgebaly said in the email.
"All cases pressed locally against them in normal courts of law are being referred to martial courts, then no justice is achieved and no one got prosecuted for the many killings that happened since January 2011 to date."
However, researcher in the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch Heba Morayef told Daily News Egypt that trying SCAF before the ICC is not legally feasible.
"Egypt is not a party to the Rome Statute, which is the treaty that established the ICC. So the court does not have jurisdiction over Egypt," she said.
The only two exceptions where the ICC can try members of SCAF, Morayef said, are not likely to happen in Egypt.
"The first exception is when the Security Council orders the ICC to investigate crimes against humanity as is the case of Libya, for example, which is not likely to happen in Egypt," she said, adding that the other exception is if the ICC Prosecutor herself orders an investigation, which is also difficult in Egypt’s case.
An individual cannot file a lawsuit at the ICC, but such attempts are a means of applying pressure to get the prosecutor to investigate the case, according to Morayef.
Lawyer Amir Salem, however, said that the case could be eligible since all attempts to try SCAF members through the civil judiciary will be referred to military courts that are completely controlled by SCAF.
"As long as SCAF has control over the general prosecution and the judiciary in Egypt, we can go to the ICC to report crimes committed by army officers against civilians in Egypt," Salem told DNE Sunday.
He said that the ICC Prosecutor will be asked to investigate documentary evidence showing flagrant violations by SCAF against civilians.
"The accused above [SCAF members] have mastered the art of hiding the truth by putting Mubarak behind bars and many scapegoats from his [Mubarak] regime before a civil judge just to absorb the anger of the public," Elgebaly said in the email sent to ICC.
"Meanwhile they have acted brutally against peaceful protesters and are directly responsible for crimes against humanity that include murder, sexual assault, torture and other kinds of crimes against humanity," she continued.
"Everyone in this revolution has a role, and for Egyptians abroad the lines were very blurred when the revolution first started. Now, we are more aware of our role and we need to lobby internationally," Elgebaly said.