Emergency law valid until 2012: Military council

General Adel El-Moursi, head of the Military Judiciary Authority, said the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) did not declare a state of emergency, which was passed by a presidential decree in June 2010 for two years that will end in the 30 June 2012, Ahram Online reported.

"The new constitutional declaration announced by the ruling military council last March indicates that all laws and regulations approved before the declaration are both valid and respected," he was quoted as saying.

However, he said, SCAF is authorised to make changes to a law already in application and accordingly the ruling military council expanded the function of the law last week.

According to the Ahram Online, official news agency MENA quoted El-Moursi as saying this in a reaction to reports that emergency laws should be deactivated immediately.

Tarek El-Bishry, who led the commission that drafted the constitutional declaration after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak last February, had earlier said that an extension of the state of emergency could only be passed after a national referendum.

The controversial law has been in place since the assassination of president Anwar Sadat in 1981 and was regularly extended by the Mubarak regime.

The scope of the law, which was restricted in 2010 to narcotics and terrorism, was widened by the SCAF to include labour strikes, traffic disruption and the spread of false information.

It has sparked outrage and protests in the country as they demanded faster political reforms after the ouster of Mubarak.

Mubarak is being held on the charges of corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters during the 18 days uprising in January in which 850 people were killed.

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