Cairo Criminal court handed out five-year prison terms to 15 defendants and life sentences to three others, including Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, on Monday in the Rabea operations room retrial. The court also acquitted 21 others, in a ruling that is less severe than that handed out in the first trial in 2015, when Badie and 13 co-defendants were sentenced to death, and 37 others were sentenced to life in prison.
Journalists at the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Rassd News agency Ahmed al-Fakharany and Samehy Mostafa, as well as leading Muslim Brotherhood member Salah Sultan and his son, the group’s former spokesperson United States national Mohamed Sultan, were among those sentenced to five years in prison.
The younger Sultan was released from prison and deported to the US in 2015 upon renouncing his Egyptian nationality and following a prolonged hunger strike.
In addition to Badie, leading figures Mahmoud Ghozlan and Hossam Abou Bakr were also given life sentences after having been sentenced to death in the initial trial.
Several others were surprisingly acquitted, including Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Gehad al-Haddad and Omar Malek, the son of prominent Muslim Brotherhood businessman Hassan Malek, as well as journalists Hany Salah El-Din and Ahmed Sobeih. Haddad, who is being held in Tora Prison, stands accused in other Brotherhood-related cases.
Khaled al-Balshy, a former member of the Journalists Syndicate board who defended the four journalists, told Mada Masr that the discrepancy between the initial harsh sentences and the many acquittals shows the weakness of the case. Balshy say that much of the evidence relied mainly on security intelligence.
The Monday ruling stems from charges that the defendants formed an operations room from which they instructed Muslim Brotherhood members to resist the state and spread chaos in the country after security forces killed at least 1,000 people in the deadly dispersals of the Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda Square sit-ins in August 2013.
After the initial April 2015 ruling, the Court of Cassation ordered a retrial in December 2015.