Brotherhood to have appeal of military tribunal

Brotherhood to have appeal of military tribunal

In a surprising development, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood will get their time in court to appeal against military tribunals that saw leading Deputy Khairat el-Shater and17 other members of the banned Islamic group sentenced to 7-years in prison in 2008. According to the Brotherhood, an appeal in Shater’s case has been filed and is currently scheduled for October 27.

When the verdicts were handed out on April, 2008, the government made it clear that there would be no appeals process for those convicted of “financing a banned organization,” but now it seems Cairo is giving the Brotherhood’s lawyers their time in court.

Top MB barrister Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud has said that the group’s participation in the appeal does not “give legitimacy” to the courts and that the leading opposition group remains opposed to their use.

“The ruling regime’s setting up of such courts is a flagrant violation of law and charters of human rights, the law stipulates that any individual has the right to be tried before a conventional judge and not be forwarded to exceptional courts or military courts, in particular,” the lawyer said in statements carried on the Brotherhood’s official English language website, Ikhwanweb.

Shater and leading Brotherhood businessman Hassan Malek were sentenced to 7-years in prison for allegedly joining and financing a banned group. The military court also jailed five other members of the group’s leadership residing abroad. Among them was Youssef Nada, chairman of the al-Taqwa Bank in Switzerland.

A second court upheld the April verdict on July 13, 2008.

Nada, who was under house arrest by Swiss authorities since late 2001 for allegedly financing international terrorism, had his house detention lifted earlier this month after Swiss officials said they could find no reason for keeping the banker in his detention. Nada welcomed the move, saying he would take his new freedom slowly, planning to “visit Islam’s holy places” and return to a sense of normalcy in the near future.

Abdel Maksoud said the Brotherhood maintains that the use of military courts is “illegal” and says it does not support their use against any citizen, whether Brotherhood or not.

“The regime’s unjust methods against the movement, especially after the unprecedented escalation of State Security Service campaigns against Muslim Brotherhood members in Egypt’s governorates during the past few weeks and directing positive messages to the Muslim Brotherhood must end,” he added.

A number of activists, including the Kefaya (Enough) movement have expressed their anger over the government’s decision to employ military courts in what they claim to be “civil cases against citizens with no military connection.”

A government official at the interior ministry declined to speak with Bikya Masr on Sunday morning, saying that they are unable to comment on ongoing cases.