Egyptians demonstrate as local court delays verdict

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Egyptians demonstrated on Tuesday as a local court delayed handing down a verdict in the case of 40 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood. The protesters described the delay as an attempt to force the Brotherhood away from local elections in April. Some 40 members of Egypt’s largest opposition group are on military trial, and the verdict will be given 25 March, only one week after the deadline to nominate persons for the municipal vote. “Terrorism or money laundering, where is the evidence? State security, you thugs, you protect thieves,” the demonstrators shouted. Some analysts in Cairo believe the Brotherhood could win a decisive victory if the group’s leaders participate in the elections. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sees this as trouble and has been rounding up hundreds of members of the banned organisation in recent weeks. The Brotherhood has said the arrests will not deter it from participation in the elections. The group was officially banned in 1954 but, until the group won nearly one quarter of seats in Parliament in the 2005 vote, it was largely tolerated by the government. “It’s a political case. The postponement has to do with the local elections,” Abdul Monim Abdul Maqsoud, the group’s lawyer, said. “Now that the verdict is delayed the government can buy time for political gain,” he said.

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