Last Chapter – Controversial Military Tribunal against MB Leaders in Last Stage
Next Tuesday, the case heard by the Huckstepp-based Military Tribunal trying forty Muslim Brotherhood (MB) businessmen, university professors and professionals on charge of money laundry will enter its last stage with starting the defense pleading.
The military court started its sessions last April, 26th but the defendants have been jailed since December 2006 and January, 2007.
The sessions of this case, up to 40 sessions, have become longer than sessions of cases of such a kind usually heard by Egyptian military courts, apparently because of the many complications in this most complicated and controversial case heard in the military justice .
After hearing prosecution witnesses, including State Security Police officers, also heard were three witnesses representing the financial committee that wrote the report assessing situations of companies accused of practicing money laundry.
The sessions hearing witnesses were full of many surprises which were in favour of the accused because they revealed many legal and accounting mistakes.
The defence panel of the accused sees that the formation of the committee is illegal. This is because the anti-money laundering law defined one single body affiliated to the central bank of Egypt which is authorized to receive notices from financial institutions about any suspected money laundry actions. This unit investigates and probes into the charges and refer results of its investigations to the public prosecution.
However, nothing happened of such an investigation in this case.
The prosecution tasked the anti-graft unit affiliated to the Ministry of Justice with forming a committee to prepare a report about the case, a report that has premeditatedly overblown assets of the companies, according to sources of the defense for the accused.
After long and provocative discussions in which members of the committee resorted to ambiguity and indirect answers to defense questions, the court ordered the same committee prepare a new report to define the companies suspected of having illegal activities.
The new report dramatically lowered the value of assets of these companies from more than 448 million pounds to less than 25 million pounds only, and the number of accused companies decreased from 68 companies to 11 companies which the financial committee saw that they have suspected violations and five companies which- its saw- have violations.
Although there are other companies proven to contain no violation and are proven to have no relation with the accused, but the military court rejected several requests from the defense to lift the decision of freezing over those companies.
The atmosphere of the trial became tense several times because the court was premeditatedly ignoring law, said the defence. In a certain stage, there was a tendency towards calling for changing the court, but the accused and the defense stopped short of doing so because they know that a measure like this will be useless.
The defense has demanded several times that law take effect through releasing the accused because there is no decision for jailing some of them, because justifications for a provisional detention expired or because of the current conflict of authority between the civil and military justice and because there is a case over this conflict in front of the Constitutional Court. Nevertheless, the court did not respond to any of the defense requests.
Also, the defense demanded arresting the state security officers whom it accused of forging official papers and of a false testimony and it called also for arresting members of the financial committee. However, these repeated requests from the defense were ignored by the court.
On the other hand, the court allowed the accused to bring who any defense witnesses they want, and it approved that more of them come during the pleading sessions.
A number of witnesses have given their testimonies, including two students who saw the controversial athletic show carried out in Azhar University late 2006 and which was a direct cause of this case.
Both students testified that the show didn”t include any sign of a paramilitary action and there is no relation between any of the accused and what the students carried out. One of the students revealed that state security officers brought with them cold steels and put them in the students residence and arrested them and photographed them beside these cold steels.
Other witnesses, including two professors at Al-Azhar faculty of medicine and the head of Cairo Doctors” Union testified that both professors of Al-Azhar faculty of medicine Dr. Essam Afifi and Dr. Salah Al Desouki have a good reputation and good manners and can never do anything in contravention to constitution or law.
Other witnesses denied that any of the accused requested money from them to invest it. They stressesd that they didn”t ask them to join the Muslim Brotherhood group and they never incited them to do acts of violence or incited them against state institutions. Some of the accused called for hearing testimonies of some big figures like Dr. Ahmed Nazif, Dr. Ahmed Darwish, Dr. Hani Hilal who are previous colleagues of Dr. Essam Hashish in Cairo Faculty of Engineering. Also the accused requested testimonies of former prime minister Dr. Aziz Sedki and Zakariya Azmi, the President”s chief of staff and Makram Mohamed Ahmed, the chairman of journalists.
The defense witnesses are considered positive testimonies for the accused unlike the prosecution witnesses, including state security officers, who piled charges according to their claimed classified sources which they did not reveal in front of the court and their inaccurate investigations.