Egypt military trial of top Muslim Brotherhood members resumes
Wednesday, June 6,2007 00:00
The military trial of 40 senior members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood [party website; FAS backgrounder] resumed in Egypt Sunday, amid criticism [press release] from Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] that Egypt [JURIST news archive] is repressing the group in a manner that "flouts fundamental human rights and freedoms." The 40 defendants, including Khairat al-Shatir [BBC report], deputy guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, have been charged with terrorism and money-laundering. They were initially acquitted of all charges in January in a criminal court in Cairo, but were rearrested shortly after their release. Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak [official profile] ordered the transfer of the cases to a military court [JURIST report] and Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court ruled last month that the military trial could proceed [JURIST report], reversing a lower court rejection [JURIST report] of the military trial. The trial has now been adjourned and will resume on July 15.

The Muslim Brotherhood holds 88 seats in the 454-seat Egyptian parliament and is the largest opposition party. Its members run officially as independents because the Muslim Brotherhood has been banned in Egypt since 1954. HRW estimates that 223 members of the Muslim Brotherhood are currently detained for "attempting to exercise their rights to freedom of association and expression." The Egyptian government accuses the organization of trying to create an Islamic theocracy through violence, while the Brotherhood accuses the government of attempting to disrupt the Brotherhood’s campaign to elect members to the Shura Council, the upper house of the Egyptian parliament. AP has more.