Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bush Style Egyptian Democracy: Crush Opposition through the Use of the Kangaroo Court Judiciary

Egypt Muslim Brotherhood Trial Resumes

BY OMAR SINAN

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - A military trial of 40 senior members of Egypt's most powerful opposition group on charges of terrorism and money laundering resumed Sunday, a defense attorney and a court official said.

The trial is part of an ongoing government crackdown against the banned Muslim Brotherhood whose members hold almost 20 percent of the seats in parliament and pose the most significant challenge to President Hosni Mubarak's regime.

Human rights groups have condemned Egypt's policy of trying civilians before military courts, which usually issue swift and harsh verdicts with no possibility of appeal except asking the president for clemency.

The Brotherhood has undergone several military trials, but this is the largest in years.

More than 100 Arab and Western lawyers representing the defendants arrived at the military base north of Cairo where Sunday's session took place. But only a few were let in the courtroom, said Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud, a member of the group's defense team.

A court official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said Judge General Abdel Fattah Abdallah opened Sunday's session by reading the charges. The defendants denied all of the charges.

During the proceedings, Khayrat el-Shater, the Brotherhood's No. 3, stood behind bars with the other defendants.

Civilian courts have twice ordered the release of several defendants, including el-Shater, known as the group's chief strategist and financier. But Mubarak has ignored the rulings.

Abdel Maksoud argued with the judge over the detentions, saying there was no order or rule to renew their imprisonment.

"If the court was implementing the law, they should have been released by now, but it is a political case," he added.

After the defense's arguments, the trial was adjourned until July 15.

The Brotherhood has been banned since 1954 but continues to operate. Its lawmakers, who run as independents, hold 88 seats in the 454-seat parliament.

The group advocates implementing Islamic law but says it wants democratic reforms in Egypt, where Mubarak has had a quarter century of authoritarian rule.

More than 400 Brotherhood members have been arrested in a crackdown since December, after Brotherhood students carried out a military-like parade. The government has alleged the movement was forming an armed wing, but the group denies the claim.

Original article posted here.

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