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Cablegate: Charges Reduced Against Muslim Brotherhood Members

VZCZCXRO3423
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #3506 3511228
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171228Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7765
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS CAIRO 003506

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NSC FOR PASCUAL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KISL KDEM EG
SUBJECT: CHARGES REDUCED AGAINST MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD MEMBERS
FACING MILITARY TRIBUNAL

REF: A. CAIRO 2808
B. CAIRO 3018

Sensitive but unclassified. Not for internet distribution.

1. (SBU) In an unexpected December 15 development, the
military court which is trying forty members of the Muslim
Brotherhood (MB) reportedly dropped charges against the
defendants of "participating in a terrorist organization"
(which carries the death penalty) and money laundering.
According to press reports, the sole charge remaining against
the group of defendants is "membership in an illegal
organization." (Note: According to Egyptian law, the MB is
technically banned. End note). The MB's third-most senior
official, Second Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat Al Shatir and
MB member and businessman Hassan Malik reportedly are still
charged with managing companies that finance the MB. The
military tribunals have been ongoing since April 26, and only
thirty-three of the MB defendants are in custody; the other
seven are being tried in abstentia. To date, the GOE has
ignored four decisions by various civil courts that ruled
against the use of the military tribunals, and ordered the
release of the detainees (ref A).

2. (SBU) The MB's website trumpeted that the dropping of the
charges is "unprecedented in the history of Egyptian military
justice," and indeed, legal experts we contacted could not
recall a similar circumstance in Egypt's long experience with
military tribunals. MB sources were quoted in the
international and local media as stating that, "The dropping
of the word 'terrorism' augurs well for a more lenient
verdict than we could have expected." MB sources are also
quoted as anticipating that closing statements in the trial
will be delivered shortly. The military tribunal is
currently adjourned for the Eid al Adha holiday, and is due
to recommence on December 23.
Ricciardone

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