CAIRO: The military court trying 40 senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) received a list of modified charges in the trial they are currently facing, General Secretary of the MB Mahmoud Ezzat confirmed to Daily News Egypt.
Reports which appeared last week claiming that the terrorism charges would be dropped were true, but the money laundering charges have been upheld and some new charges were added, according to the local press.
Paramount among them is the new charge leveled against chief financier and third in command Khayrat El-Shater, among others, who are now also accused of managing the finances of a banned group, investing it in commercial activities and creating companies geared towards financing the group.
Ezzat also told Daily News Egypt that the charges that have been dropped may be brought back at anytime and that the entire proceeding was an abuse of judicial power.
He said, “The phrasing of the new charges is unclear, it is the judge who [has the authority to] level new charges but he said these charges were modified for reasons of caution and he didn’t specifically state that the charges have been dropped.
“This sort of thing doesn’t exist in judicial law, Ezzat added, “never is a judge unsure of the charges being leveled in his courtroom. What he attempts to determine is the extent, not the nature of [these charges].
“Therefore it shows hesitation on the judge’s part, he continued, “and it appears to be derived from orders given from political powers.
“In any case this is the military judiciary; it is directed and has no independence, Ezzat concluded.
The Brotherhood is officially an outlawed group, but has been tolerated to a degree by the incumbent regime.
MB lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud was skeptical of the nature of the amendments to the charges when they were first announced.
In a previous interview with Daily News Egypt, he was reticent about what the renewed charges really meant.
The court also charged five defendants being tried in absentia for setting up an overseas committee to provide funding for the MB, whereas El-Shater and Hassan Malek managed these funds domestically, fully aware of the group’s purpose and activities.
The money laundering charges were upheld, with 21 defendants charged with laundering money generated from belonging to an outlawed organization and covering up the eventual destination of these funds.
Eight other defendants were charged with aiding and abetting the initial 21 in their laundering activities.
All defendants are also charged with belonging to an illicit group. Related charges include intentionally violating the constitution, preventing state institutions from performing their duties, violating the civil liberties of Egyptian citizens and organizing secret meetings to infiltrate student communities, particularly at Al-Azhar University.
Numerous charges were leveled against 40 Brotherhood senior members for terrorism, money laundering and belonging to a banned group.
As part of the investigation, assets worth billions of pounds were seized from the prominent businessmen, including publishing houses and pharmacies.
MB members were hauled up against a military tribunal as opposed to a civil court, which both the group and human rights organizations have decried.
The government crackdown followed a display of military maneuvers by uniformed young Brotherhood members during a demonstration at Al-Azhar University in late 200