Egypt court sentences 25 Islamists to jail

An Egyptian military court has handed jail terms to 25 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood including third-in-command Khairat el-Shatir.

Egypt court sentences 25 Islamists to jail

An Egyptian military court handed jail terms on Tuesday to 25 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood including third-in-command Khairat el-Shatir, but acquitted 15 others, Brotherhood officials said.

Brotherhood officials said Shatir was sentenced to a 7-year jail term, while the remainder of those convicted received terms ranging from three to 10 years in a trial that local and international human rights groups have criticised as unfair.

"These rulings are harsh and unjustified," Brotherhood spokesman Gamal Nassar said, describing those convicted as "honourable men who are looking out for the interests of their country".

The men -- including Brotherhood officials, university professors and businessmen -- were the first from Egypt's strongest opposition group to face a military trial since 2001.

The Egyptian authorities have been waging a crackdown against the Brotherhood in recent months. The group holds a fifth of the seats in parliament through members who ran as independents.

Charges against the 40 men initially included terrorism, but were later reported to have been reduced to lesser offences such as membership in a banned group and possessing anti-government literature.

Egypt barred independent observers from the court.

Egyptian security forces scuffled with journalists and Brotherhood supporters waiting for news on the verdict outside the military base at Heikstep, outside Cairo, amid heightened security ahead of the rulings.

Brotherhood officials said they had not yet seen an official copy of the court ruling, and were awaiting confirmation of the details of the verdicts, including on what charges the men were ultimately convicted.

They said two Brotherhood members -- Shatir and businessman Hassan Malek -- were sentenced to seven years in jail, while five members of the Islamist group received 10-year terms.

The Brotherhood said on its website that six men were sentenced to five years in jail. Another 12 received terms for three years, including Mohamed Ali Bishr, a member of the group's governing guidance council.

The men have already spent well over a year in jail, with the exception of a handful who were tried in absentia.

Last Mod: 16 Nisan 2008, 11:12
Add Comment