Egypt Islamists, Saudi to stand trial for money laundering

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Four Egyptians and a Saudi national are to stand trial in Egypt on June 14 on charges of money laundering and funding the banned Muslim Brotherhood, a judicial source told AFP on Sunday.

"Their trial will start on June 14 at the emergency High State Security Court. They are accused of funding a banned organisation through donations collected abroad," the source said.

The five will be tried after being charged with channeling money through a British-based Islamic charity to fund the movement's activities in Egypt, the source said.

Three of the accused -- Saudi national Awad al-Qarni and Egyptians Ibrahim Munir Ahmed Mustafa and Wagdi Abdel Hamid Ghoneim -- are to be tried in absentia as they live abroad.

The two currently in Egypt are Ashraf Mohammed Abdel Halim, a physician and deputy secretary general of the doctors' syndicate, and Osama Mohammed Soliman who heads a large financial company in Egypt.

The two have been accused of laundering 2.8 million euros (3.56 million dollars) through several bank accounts before supplying the Muslim Brotherhood with the money to fund their activities in Egypt, the source said.

Four of the accused -- Qarni, Mustafa, Ghoneim and Abdel Halim -- are also accused of supplying the Brotherhood with four million pounds sterling (5.9 million dollars).

International rights groups have repeatedly criticised the use of emergency courts -- set up under the emergency law which has been in place since 1981 -- which deny the right of appeal.

The Muslim Brotherhood is officially banned in Egypt but its members control a fifth of seats in parliament after fielding candidates as "independents."

The charges against the Islamist group, the country's largest and most organised opposition movement, were the latest blow against the Brotherhood ahead of parliamentary elections later this year that it plans to contest.

© 2010 AFP

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