CAIRO—CAIRO—Egypt’s military ruler has ordered a halt to trials of civilians before military courts known for swift and harsh verdicts.

Sunday’s decision by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi doesn’t completely spare civilians military justice. His decree stipulates that those who violate military laws, like assaulting servicemen or damaging military installations, would still be referred to military tribunals.

Rights groups say at least 11,000 civilians have been tried before military tribunals since the February ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Tantawi chairs a military council that took control of the country from Mubarak with pledges to return Egypt to civilian rule after a transition period.

The rights groups also claim the military tortures detainees.

Sunday’s decision by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi doesn’t completely spare civilians military justice. His decree stipulates that those who violate military laws, like assaulting servicemen or damaging military installations, would still be referred to military tribunals.

Rights groups say at least 11,000 civilians have been tried before military tribunals since the February ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Tantawi chairs a military council that took control of the country from Mubarak with pledges to return Egypt to civilian rule after a transition period.

The rights groups also claim the military tortures detainees.