Egypt court hands Muslim Brotherhood leaders life sentences

Senior Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Al-Beltagi (L) sits behind bars in a glass cage during a trial for him and other members of the now-banned group over charges of breaking out of jail during the 2011 uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak's 29-year rule, at a make-shift courthouse in southern Cairo on December 2, 2018. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 05 December 2018
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Egypt court hands Muslim Brotherhood leaders life sentences

  • An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and his deputy Khairat Al-Shater to life in prison
  • Four others were also handed life sentences on Wednesday

CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and his deputy Khairat Al-Shater to life in prison, judicial sources said, in a retrial over violence during the overthrow of president Muhammad Mursi in 2013.
The sentence is one among several trials and retrials against Badie, Shater and other leaders of the party that ruled Egypt before the military ousted Mursi following mass protests against his rule.
Badie and Shater were sentenced to life in 2015 over violence between Brotherhood supporters and opponents near the group’s headquarters.
Four others were also handed life sentences on Wednesday. The court acquitted Saad Al-Katatny, parliament speaker under Mursi, along with a former minister, two prominent Brotherhood figures and two others.
The defendants can appeal the ruling for the last time before the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest civilian court.
The public prosecution may also appeal the acquittals or the life sentences that two defendants received instead of death sentences.
The defendants faced charges of inciting violence against the demonstrators in front of the Brotherhood headquarters, aggravated battery and the possession of firearms.
Authorities had referred 18 defendants to trial in the case. Five remain at large and one died before receiving a sentence.
The latest retrial began when the Court of Cassation accepted 13 defendants’ appeals in January 2016.
Separately on Wednesday, two security sources and a judicial source said authorities arrested a justice minister under Mursi and are investigating him for belonging to an illegal group.
The security sources said National Security Agency officers arrested Ahmed Suleiman at his home in Minya governorate on Tuesday and later transferred him to Cairo.
Suleiman had criticized the arrest and trial of Brotherhood leaders after Mursi was ousted.
After Mursi’s ouster, Egypt cracked down on its oldest and most organized militant movement, killing hundreds of its supporters during the violent dispersal of a sit-in, throwing thousands of its supporters in jail and labelling the group a terrorist organization.
The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful movement and denies links to attacks by militants.


Jordan’s PM appeals for more aid as most Syrian refugees set to stay

Updated 20 February 2019
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Jordan’s PM appeals for more aid as most Syrian refugees set to stay

  • Jordan PM says most refugees not returning yet
  • Amman says funding crucial to keep economy afloat

AMMAN: Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz appealed on Wednesday to major donors to continue multi-billion dollar funding for Syrian refugees in the kingdom, saying most of those who had fled the eight-year conflict had no intention of returning any time soon.
Razzaz told representatives of major Western donors, UN agencies and NGOs that relatively few refugees had gone back since Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s army last summer regained control of southern Syria, where most had fled from.
“The number of refugees that so far returned voluntarily is low and most have no intention of going back any time soon,” Razzaz told a meeting to launch a UN-funded government plan that earmarks $2.4 billion in funding needs for 2019.
Officials say only around 10,000 refugees out of a total estimated at 1.3 million had left since the two countries opened the vital Nassib-Jaber border crossing last October.
Razzaz echoed the UN view that unstable conditions inside Syria, where large-scale destruction, fear of retribution and military conscription has made many reluctant to return.
“We are now entering a new phase of the Syrian crisis, however the impact is still ongoing. The conditions for their return are not present,” Razzaz added.
The prime minister warned against donor fatigue in a protracted crisis where the needs of refugees and vulnerable Jordanians were largely unchanged.
Maintaining funding that covers education, health and crucial services for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and local communities was crucial to ease rising pressures on the debt-burdened economy, he added.
“Aid helped Jordan in staying resilient in a difficult regional setting,” Razzaz said, adding the refugee burden had strained meagre resources such as water and electricity, with a donor shortfall covered from state finances.
Jordan is struggling to rein in record public debt of $40 billion, equivalent to 95 percent of gross domestic product, under a tough International Monetary Fund (IMF) austerity plan.
Major donors say more than $6 billion had been extended to Jordan since 2015, which economists credit for rejuvenating once sleepy northern border towns, while refugee entrepreneurship brought a pool of cheap labor and new skills, triggering a property boom and higher productivity.
The kingdom received around $1.6 billion last year alone.
“The level of funding to Jordan that still remains is exceptional in global comparison,” said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Anders Pedersen, adding needs had evolved from the humanitarian aid required early in the conflict to development projects that benefit the economy.