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Press Release: Egypt – Detained Muslim Brotherhood Members' Trial Verdict Expected Soon

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A verdict may be expected in the upcoming Muslim Brotherhood trial however, many believe it may be delayed till April elections are over. ------------------------------------------------
Islamic Human Rights Commission
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19 March 2008

Press Release: Egypt – Detained Muslim Brotherhood Members' Trial Verdict Expected Soon

A verdict is expected in the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) trial to be held in the following week. However, MB leaders and certain political analysts believe that the verdict will be delayed again until the April municipal elections are over, in order to pressurize 'the group's political decisions ahead of the municipal elections.'

The detained MB leaders and members have been charged with money laundering, terrorism, and belonging to a banned organization. Additional charges of running and financing a banned organization have also been leveled against some detained members, including the third-in-command Khairat Al-Shater. If they are found guilty, they can face at least five years in prison.

The unjust military trial has been denounced by many notable international human rights groups, lawyers and activists.

In latest developments, the Cairo Criminal Court rejected to hear the appeal made on behalf of the detained Muslim Brotherhood leaders against freezing their assets, stating that the case is 'beyond the scope of its authorities', even though the same court had ordered the assets frozen more than a year ago.

Meanwhile more than 800 MB members have been recently arrested and detained in less than a month, ahead of local council elections in April, the MB sources state. The arrest of the MB members coincided with the 10-day registration period for candidates who wished to stand for the April elections. Many of those arrested were potential candidates. According to an MB statement on their website,

'In preparation for the upcoming elections, the Muslim Brotherhood nominated 5754 candidates nationwide, however, only 498 succeeded to register, while 831 were unjustly detained by security forces, and the rest were forcibly and physically prevented from reaching the registration offices to submit their candidacy papers. Around 3912 lawsuits were filed by disfranchised candidates and 2664 received favorable court orders to run for elections while the remaining lawsuits are still pending (it is unclear whether the government will abide by these court orders or ignore them as usual).'

Those arrested also include influential MB leaders, such as Mahmoud Ghuzlan from the MB\'s Guidance Council, its leading decision-making body. Editor-in-chief of MB's English website, Khaled Hamza, has also been arrested.

The local council elections play a very significant role in determining presidential candidates. Since MB's huge victory in the 2005 parliament elections, the government delayed Egypt's municipal polls for two years in order to hinder another MB victory, according to observers.

IHRC believes that these unjust practices adopted by the Egyptian government against MB leaders and members are a deliberate attempt to stamp down the opposition and halt the democratic process.

IHRC calls upon the Egyptian government to release all political detainees immediately and to ensure that their right to freedom of expression and association is fully respected.

For more information please contact the Press Office on (+44) 20 8904 4222 or (+44) 7958 607 475 email info@ihrc.org.[ENDS]

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The Islamic Human Rights Commission is an NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Wembley
HA9 7XH
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183
Email: info@ihrc.org
Web: www.ihrc.org

IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

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