Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya leaders jailed over attempts to flee Egypt

El-Sayed Gamel El-Deen, Monday 8 Sep 2014

Five leaders of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's political party were given a year in jail on charges of trying to abscond to Sudan and trespassing in military areas

Safwat Abdel-Ghani
Head of the Building and Development Party Safwat Abdel-Ghani, (Photo: Al-Ahram).

An Egyptian military court on Monday sentenced five leaders of the ultra-conservative Islamist group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya to a year in jail over allegations of attempting to illegally flee to Sudan, a lawyer for the group's political party has said.

The men were arrested in July in Aswan, in the country's south, over accusations of trespassing in off-limit military areas as well as attempting to illegally flee to the neighbouring African state.

Safwat Abdel-Ghany, head of the group's political arm, the Building and Development Party, Alaa Abul-Nasr, the party's secretary-general and three other party leaders were also each fined LE500 (approximately $70) over the charges, Adel Moawa, the party's lawyer, said.

A judicial source said the accused are not charged in any other cases.

Egyptian authorities have mounted a sustained crackdown on Islamists since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood last summer, with more than 1,400 killed in street showdowns and thousands jailed.

Several Islamists and leaders of the now-banned Brotherhood have been arrested while attempting to flee the country to neighbouring Sudan.

Qatar, which Egypt accuses of backing the Brotherhood, has given refuge to several fugitive leaders of the Islamist group, while Saudi Arabia followed Egypt's move last December to declare the Islamist movement a terrorist organisation.

Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, which carried out some of the most deadly militant attacks in Egypt's recent history, renounced violence over a decade ago and moved into mainstream politics by forming a political party after long-ruling president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in the 2011 uprising.

The group had supported Egypt's deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi during his year-long rule and has been active in the Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a pro-Morsi coalition that has been demanding his return to power.

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