Egyptian Brethren appear in court

147.jpgA military trial has resumed briefly in Egypt of more than 40 members of the banned opposition Muslim Brotherhood. More than 100 lawyers turned up to represent the accused at a military base north of Cairo, but only a few were allowed into the courtroom.

Reporters, human rights workers and members of the defendants’ families were also excluded.

Defendants pleaded not guilty to charges including terrorism and money laundering and the trial was adjourned.

Defence lawyers had boycotted the first session in April, saying they were not notified of the start date.

Proceedings will resume in mid-July.

Correspondents say the trial is part of an ongoing crackdown against the Brotherhood, whose members hold one-fifth of parliamentary seats and pose the most significant challenge to the government.

One of the group, who went on trial last month, is a senior Brotherhood figure, Khayrat al-Shatir.

A civilian court has twice ordered the release of Mr Shatir and some of the other defendants, but the authorities overturned the rulings under Egypt’s long-standing emergency legislation.

The Brotherhood is outlawed in Egypt, but has traditionally been tolerated. Its members – standing as independents – enjoyed significant success in the 2005 parliamentary polls, despite allegations of serious irregularities favouring President Hosni Mubarak’s party.

In May, a court overruled a presidential order that the defendants should stand trial in a military court.

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