Thursday, April 26, 2007

Military Tribunals For MB Members

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

The Egyptian government's crackdown on the banned Muslim Brotherhood group continued Thursday, targeting its' businessmen with 40 members of the group standing military trials for participating in the group and allegedly funding terrorism:
Defendants included Khayrat Al Shater, the number three man in the Brotherhood, who together with other businessmen linked to the group had their assets frozen and were referred to a military court in February.

Family members were initially banned from the proceedings before eventually being allowed in. They said the defendants remained silent because their counsel was not present.

In past military trials of Islamists, journalists and family members, as well as diplomatic observers, have been allowed into the courtroom at a military base in the desert outside Cairo.

Thursday's session lasted for approximately four hours before being adjourned until June 3.

Shater was arrested last December in the continuing government crackdown on Egypt's largest opposition bloc, following a university demonstration in which masked pro-Brotherhood students staged a military-style parade on the campus of Al Azhar University in the capital.

The targeting of Shater and other businessmen associated with the movement has been seen as an attempt to cripple the powerful organization financially.
Apparently, these charges have already been over ruled by civilian courts:
The military trial comes despite several judges in civilian courts throwing out the charges against the Brothers on the grounds of lack of evidence.

"There have been three verdicts from ordinary judges to release them, and none have been respected by authorities," said Aryan. "This shows that the charges are nonsense."

Egyptian authorities accuse the movement, which controls a fifth of the seats in parliament, of seeking to revive its underground military wing and of eventually trying to topple the regime.

"Khayrat Al Shater and the other Muslim Brotherhood detainees should never have been arrested in the first place," Elijah Zarwan of Human Rights Watch said. "Now that an independent court has said as much, the government is resorting to a secret military tribunal to deliver the desired verdict."

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