Teenage military detainee Islam Harby left his prison cell on Wednesday afternoon after serving three quarters of his three-year jail term.
Harby was arrested in March 2011 while watching a street fight at Al-Moqattam, near his home, according to Human Rights Watch.
“They found a knife with him,” Harby’s sister, Abeer Harby, said. He was charged with theft and possession of a bladed weapon, reported Human Rights Watch.
Harby was sentenced by the C 28 military court to seven years in prison. According to his sister he was 14 years old at the time and “he shared a cell with other adult prisoners.”
“After we told our story through various media outlets, the sentence was reduced to three years in jail,” Abeer said.
Harby’s case was one of those the No Military Trials movement was following closely. “Practically speaking, we were incapable of helping Harby in any way;” No Military Trials member Maha Ma’moun said, “all we could do was apply pressure to have his verdict reduced from seven to three years in jail.”
In a report released in March Human Rights Watch demanded that Harby be released “after serving almost a year in an adult prison after an unfair trial in a military tribunal.” The watchdog added that over 43 children were tried by military tribunals in a year, urging the Egyptian military to freeze all investigations and trials of children in military court, as well as releasing all minors or referring them to juvenile court.
At least six detained children claimed to have been being physically assaulted during their military detention.
Another minor military detainee No Military Trials is following closely is Mohamed Ehab, a 17-year-old who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for breaking a military curfew during the January 2011 revolution. Ehab is still in prison.
Over 10 days ago, President Mohamed Morsy issued a law granting all detainees amnesty for all crimes and felonies committed in support of the revolution. Morsy’s legal advisor Mohamed Fouad Gad Allah stated that the decree does not include those who have been detained since January 2011 for offenses not related to the revolution, such as arms possession, theft, robbery, rape etc. Thus, Harby and other militarily detained minors would not benefit from the law.
Article 112 of Egypt’s child law states that: “Children cannot be detained, jailed or imprisoned with adults… .Any public employee who detains, jails or imprisons a child with one or more adults is punished by a sentence not less than three months and a penalty not less than EGY 1000.”
Article 8 of the martial law allows military tribunals to try minors if they are in the company of an adult, subject to the military jurisdiction, whether the adult is a military man or a civilian in a military zone.