25 senior MBs sentenced 3-10 years by military tribunal

Just in from Reuters: EGYPTIAN MILITARY COURT HANDS JAIL TERMS TO 25 FROM MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD, ACQUITS 15 - BROTHERHOOD LAWYER

Ikhwanonline has special front page for occasion. Some background in English from Ikhwanweb at "Final Session of MB Military Tribunal today" and "Journalists and MB Supporters Harrassed Prior to Military Verdict"

Pending detail of who got what sentence, what many will be looking for is what the bigshots -- Khairat al-Shater, Hassan Malek, Muhammad Bishr and others -- got. Reuters says Khairat al-Shater is among those convicted, which is as expected. I am surprised at the 10-year sentence, most had been expecting sentences of 3-5 years, although it is not clear which charges were actually applied in the end. MB lawyer Abdel Moneim Maksoud is awaiting full details of verdict.

AFP says there is no right of appeal to verdict, but I am not so sure, didn't Mubarak last year ask for the creation of a military appeals court?

AFP reports Hassan Malek and Khairat al-Shater got 7 years each - definitely worse than expected. Seven members tried in absentia got the maximum 10 years, and 16 others received sentences of between 18 months (which is the amount of time that has elapsed, more or less, since the original arrests in late 2006 and early 2007) and five years.

With Malek and al-Shater likely to serve their full 7-year sentence, the immediate questions will be 1) how does their sentence affect the MB's fundraising ability, since these are two of the wealthiest members who own a variety of IT and engineering companies, among other things; 2) what does it mean for the succession of the General Guide, since al-Shater was a favorite to head the MB (and for some was already a de facto leader) after current guide Mahdi Akef, 80, should step down in the next few years? Also, who will fill al-Shater and Malek's positions in the organization as well as in the Guidance Bureau?

Full list of who got what [Arabic]. Ikhwanweb has a summary in English. AFP also has a write-up.

Also, I can confirm that this verdict is appealable according to a law passed in mid-April 2007 that introduces appeals for the court, despite reports to the contrary. The appeal may provide another opportunity for negotiation between the MB and the regime, but is also potentially risky: a new verdict could be worse, particularly considering the uncertainty of the set(s) of charges against the defendants.

Hmmm I can imagine the press will have fun with the fact that the other verdict of the day exonerates a NDP bigwig in the worst public health scandal of last year.

AP report here, Akef reacts with typical vim:

Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the group's supreme leader, slammed the verdict, describing Egyptian authorities as "corrupt" and a "bunch of gangsters." Akef said there was "no evidence" against them and that he had "expected the court to acquit them all."


(The above post has been updated continuously -- newest paragraphs at the bottom)
Comment

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.