Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Khairat al Shater and Hassan Malek receives seven years prison sentences

The military trial at Hikestep has been a Kafkaesque nightmare that´s been going on for 12 months finally came to an end today.Unfortunately with an outcome that couldn´t have been a complete surprise to anyone who has been following this trial, whose final session had already been postponed twice.

25 of the 40 Muslim Brotherhood members got prison terms of between 10 years and three years. The number three in rank in the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat al Shater, and Hassan Malek received seven years prison terms. The two of them also got their property confiscated. Seven others got 10 years terms in absentia and 16 others was handed down terms of 18 months to five years. 15 were acquitted. Reuters have slightly different numbers in this report. The details of the verdicts was not clear at this point in time.

According to MB defense lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud, the judge made a hit and run appearence when issuing the rulling, not bothering to brief the MB lawyers who were waiting outside the courtroom, just like the families, human rights organizations and journalists, they were not allowed to be present in the court room during the final session, continuing the same pattern that has been the rule during this yearlong trial.
There were 34 arrests in connection to today´s verdict at Hikestep. Three journalists were briefly detained and then released, as were two sons of MB businessman Hassan Malek, their sister Khadigha was beaten by security personell according to her own account. The security measures taken to stop any manifestation in support of the detainess in connection to the final session.

The rulling is likely to be appealed by the defense, as a 2007 change in the judicial system open up for appeals on procedurial matters regarding military courts.

Human Rights organizations has repeatedly critized military trials of civilians, and today was no exception to that rule. Amnesty International called the verdicts ¨a perversion of justice¨

A presentation of the convicted can be found here.

More to follow Tomorrow.

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