World Bulletin/News Desk
An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced Gamaa Islamiya leader Assem Abdel-Maged to 15 years – in absentia – for murder and "forming a criminal gang."
The court also sentenced five co-defendants to three years in jail each while acquitting 29 others, some of whom are leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood group.
Abdel-Maged was convicted of setting up a "criminal gang" and killing three people in the southern Assiut province during protests against former president and Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi on June 30, 2013.
Four Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including two former MPs, were acquitted of the same charges, a judicial source told The Anadolu Agency.
Abdel-Maged fled to Qatar in the wake of Morsi's ouster by the army in mid-2013, which was followed by a deadly government crackdown on dissent of which Morsi supporters were the primary target.
In late 2013, Egyptian authorities sent a request to Doha for Abdel-Maged's extradition. Qatari authorities, however, have yet to hand over Abdel-Maged, who was sentenced to death in absentia last summer in a separate trial on similar charges.
In a separate trial by the same court, ten other people were sentenced to three years each in jail while 43 others were acquitted – including Brotherhood Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein – of charges of storming Assiut's provincial headquarters in July of 2013, two days after Morsi's overthrow.
Gamaa Islamiya is a major component of the National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy, Morsi's main support bloc.
The government's ongoing crackdown on Brotherhood members and supporters has seen hundreds killed and thousands detained since Morsi's ouster.
Morsi, who was jailed himself immediately after his ouster, now faces multiple trials on a raft of criminal charges that he insists are trumped up.
According to the judicial source, all of Thursday's court decisions are subject to appeal.
In December of 2013, Egyptian authorities designated the decades-old Brotherhood a "terrorist" organization, blaming it for a series of deadly attacks on security officials.
The Brotherhood, for its part, denies the allegations, saying it is committed to purely peaceful activism.Last Mod: 15 Ocak 2015, 18:01