Egypt's high military court on Sunday condemned 15 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to between three and five years in prison and acquitted five others, the judge announced.
Former member of parliament Mukhtar Nuh was among those given three years in jail in a case that the Brotherhood claims was linked to legislative elections earlier this month during which they made significant gains.
The condemned were found guilty of belonging to an illegal group with the aim of "disturbing the social peace" as well as trying to "manipulate" trade unions and "instigate antagonism to the policies of the government."
Among those sentenced to five years in prison was Mohammed Badie Sami, who had been acquitted of similar charges in a trial in 1995.
Saad Zaghlul al-Ashmawi and Ahmed al-Halawani also received five year prison terms. All three of them were among those described in the charge sheet as among the leaders of their group.
The main defense lawyer Mohammed Tousson told AFP after the trial that the sentences were "unjust" and branded the trial of civilians in a military court "uncivilized."
Amnesty International representative Carsten Jurgensen meanwhile said the sentences represented "another blow to freedom of expression in Egypt," complaining that the defendants should never have gone to trial for their non-violent political activities HUCKSTEP (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)