An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced 76-year-old Muslim Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Ezzat to life in prison on terrorism charges, according to the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper. Ezzat was convicted on terrorism charges related to violence after the military ousted former Islamist-aligned Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
Ezzat was arrested in Cairo in August of last year, with police reportedly finding encrypted software in his apartment that he had used to communicate with other Brotherhood members both domestically and abroad. The authorities previously believed he had fled the country.
What was Ezzat accused of?
Ezzat was found guilty of supplying weapons during confrontations between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and opponents. He was also accused of having a role in the 2015 assassination of former Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat, a foe of the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Ezzat's lawyer has not yet commented on the sentence. The Brotherhood has previously said the Egyptian authorities are pursuing "false political charges" against Ezzat.
Ezzat had previously been sentenced to death and life in prison in absentia in 2015, and he has since faced retrials following his August arrest.
He had served as the Muslim Brotherhood's acting leader in Egypt from 2013 until his arrest last year. The Brotherhood, which was founded by Hassan al-Banna in the Egyptian city of Ismailia in 1928, is considered a terrorist organization by Egypt's government.
How has Egypt's government cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood?
Army general Abdel Fatah el-Sissi, who has served as Egypt's president since 2014, has implemented a variety of methods to crack down on Muslim Brotherhood supporters. In August 2013, security forces and military under el-Sissi's leadership killed hundreds of pro-Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood-aligned demonstrators in Cairo's Nasr City district, which has since been termed the Raaba Massacre.
Egyptian judges have issued hundreds of death sentences to Muslim Brotherhood members in recent years. The Egyptian government is also suspected of using forced disappearances to crack down on the opposition.
wd/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)