An Egyptian military tribunal Wednesday sentenced 25 leading members of the country’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood to jail terms ranging from 18 months to 10 years.
“These sentences are simply attempts by the government to settle scores with us, ” Brotherhood deputy Mohamed Habib said.
He said the tribunals were “violent” and revealed the government’s desire to dent the image of the group.
London-based Amnesty International (AI), which criticized the use of military tribunals to try civilians since Egypt announced it would try Brotherhood members, called the sentences “perverse”.
“The prison sentences are a perversion of justice,” AI said in a statement.
“This trial appeared to be politically motivated from the start, when President Hosni Mubarak sent the defendants for trial before a military court despite an earlier civilian court ruling that some of them should be released,” AI noted.
The jail time puts into question the finances of the Islamic organization.
Arabist.net, a well-respected pan-Arab blog, questioned how the group would function with leading financiers in prison.
“No, the prison sentences will not change our activities,” Habib, the group’s deputy head, argued.
No doubt, however, after last week’s upheaval in Mahalla Al Kubra over low wages and rising costs of living, Egypt is in the world’s spotlight.
“Today’s sentences leave little doubt that the Egyptian authorities are determined to undermine what has become the main opposition group in the country.”
Two of the group’s leading financiers Hassan Malek and Khairat Al Shater were gi ven prison time for “financing a banned organization” and “terrorism”. Those convicted have 60 days to appeal the court decision. Panapress.