Middle East News
Muslim Brotherhood leaders cleared of terrorism charges
Dec 16, 2007, 14:41 GMT
Cairo - A military tribunal Sunday cleared 40 Muslim Brotherhood leaders including the group's third-in-command, Khairat al-Shater, of charges of terrorism and money laundering Sunday.
The high-profile Muslim Brothers are civilians but are being tried in a military court on charges of money laundering, belonging to and financing a banned group 'that uses terrorism to achieve its ends,' disrupting public peace and endangering civil liberties.
On Sunday, two of the charges were dropped while the next court session was postponed to December 23. The Brotherhood still face the charge of belonging to a banned group.
The Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative movement that has Islam is the Solution as its political motto, is always at loggerheads with the Egyptian ruling party. The group, popular among the grassroots, has succeeded in grasping 88 seats in parliament through fielding candidates as 'independents.'
Although illegal, the group forms the strongest opposition to the Egyptian government and is active across several provinces.
Meanwhile, only 34 defendants and their attorneys were present at the Supreme Military Court in Heikstep, several kilometres north- east of Cairo, where the trial is being held. The rest of the defendants were being tried in absentia.
The case of the top Brotherhood leaders was often a source of concern for international rights groups and Egyptian lawyers who contested the legality of prosecuting civilians in military courts.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur