Egypt to charge Brotherhood leaders with money laundering
CAIRO: The Egyptian government has charged five members of the country’s leading opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood with money laundering and raising funds abroad. According to Egypt’s Attorney General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, the five MB leaders will face the controversial State Security Emergency Court.
Only one of the five suspects was in Egypt to be present at the initial court session on Thursday and the other four will be tried in absentia.
The Brotherhood figures are facing charges of raising money for a banned organization, holding conferences in England for the expressed aim of raising money under the guise of Islamic charity organizations.
The trial comes as the Egyptian government continues its nearly ongoing crackdown of the Islamist group. Since Brotherhood members secured 88 seats in Parliament during the 2005 election, the government has viewed the group as a major threat and pushes on with attempts to curtail their public support.
According to the Islamic group’s latest count, some 345 members of the organization currently languish behind bars in Egypt.
Widespread house raiding and arresting of Brotherhood leaders continues despite calls from local and international rights groups to end this campaign against the group.
“Many members of the movement from governorates from all over Egypt remaining in custody are awaiting investigations, pending verdicts or simply detained under the emergency law, which has been implemented for 30 years,” the group said in a statement published on their official website.
The arrests have not only targeted middle-ranking members as high-ranking leaders from the group’s Executive Bureau have found themselves the target of government arrests. These include Deputy Chairman Mahmoud Ezzat, Abdel Rahman al-Bar and Essam el-Erian, who were arrested and charged with terrorism in early February.
The Brotherhood’s top defense lawyer Abdul Moneim Abdul Maksoud said in a press statement that many of the detainees “have received release orders by prosecutors, however they have been defied by officials.
“The most recent arrests came about as the movement organized protests condemning the Israeli’s offenses against the Aqsa Mosque,” he said.
The lawyer argued that the continued detention of the group was a “violation of the provisions of the Constitution and the law.” He demanded that authorities release the detainees and respect court decisions.
While the international press highlighted the arrest of Erian and Ezzat in early February, now a month on, there is little coverage of the group’s members, as rumors of President Hosni Mubarak’s deteriorating health and Mohamed ElBaradei’s challenge to the ruling government have taken center stage.
Diaa Rashwan of the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies linked the mass arrests today to the situation against the Brotherhood in 2005, when leading up to Parliamentary elections then, the government arrested hundreds of MB supporters and leaders in an effort to stem their popularity.
The question now is whether the arrests and these court cases will be a deterrent for the group to move away from politics.
Republished with permission from bikya masr