Top News: Military Court Sentences Brotherhood Chief to Ten Years

A military court sentenced Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and other leading Brotherhood figures including Mohamed al-Beltagy and Safwat Hegazy to ten years over deadly clashes following the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, judicial officials said. Forty-one defendants were sentenced to serve between three and seven years, 90 others were handed down life sentences and 59 others were acquitted. They were found guilty of participating in clashes that killed 31 people in Suez between August 14 and 16, 2013. The charges in the military trial included vandalism, inciting violence, murder, assaulting military personnel and setting fire to armored personnel carriers and two Coptic churches in Suez. Tuesday’s sentences can be appealed. [Ahram Online, DNE, AFP, Aswat Masriya, 12/23/2015]


Mostaqbal Watan returns to pro-Sisi coalition in Egypt’s new parliament
The Mostaqbal Watan Party decided to return to the pro-Sisi coalition currently being formed in Egypt’s new parliament after initially declaring on Sunday that it would withdraw early this week from the bloc, the party’s spokesperson Ahmed Samy said. “We decided to return after sorting out differences regarding the mechanisms inside the coalition,” he explained. Samy added that the party held talks with the bloc following the withdrawal announcement and reached an agreement regarding the original points of differences, including a higher representation of the party in the coalition’s political office. [Ahram Online, 12/23/2015]

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International scholars demand release of journalist and researcher Ismail Alexandrani
Over 70 scholars and researchers from around the world issued a statement calling on Egyptian authorities to release journalist and researcher Ismail Alexandrani. Security forces detained Alexandrani in Hurghada airport on November 29 upon his return from Berlin. State Security Prosecution accused Alexandrani of belonging to a terrorist organization and propagating its ideas and disseminating false information. The latest session to review Alexandrani’s detention was postponed to December 27, according to his wife.  The statement is signed by 74 professors and researchers at universities in France, Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Spain, the US, Canada, India and Brazil. It describes Alexandrani as “one of Egypt’s brightest young researchers, who has spent the last few years doing ground-breaking work on the marginalized areas of Egypt—a blind spot in academic studies of the country – as well as on political Islam.” [Mada Masr, 12/23/2015]


Egypt’s grain buyer frees up wheat payment terms amid currency crisis
Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) on Wednesday changed the terms of payment for wheat purchased in its tenders. The move may give the state-grain buyer more time to make payments amid an acute shortage of foreign currency. “The letters of credit can now be opened up to 180 days after signing the contract,” said GASC Vice Chairman Mamdouh Abdel Fattah. There had previously been no ability to defer payment. Abdel Fattah declined to give a reason for the change, but traders said that it was prompted by the country’s worsening currency crisis. [Reuters, 12/23/2015]

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Man killed in third building collapse in Egypt in a week
A five-story building in the city of Damanhour, 35 km (85 miles) north of Cairo, caved in due to ongoing demolition work on an adjacent building, killing one man, state news agency MENA reported. The initial probe showed the collapsed block was already issued a demolition order that had not been upheld. Wednesday’s accident is at least the third this week. On Tuesday, four people died and four others were injured when a building crumbled in Egypt’s Qalyubiya governorate after a gas cylinder in one of the apartments exploded. A day earlier, two people, including a passing police officer, were killed when an apartment building collapsed in the southern city of Assiut, 500km (310 miles) south of Cairo. [Ahram Online, 12/23/2015]

Sisi charity fund to use EGP21 million to release prisoners in debt
The Long Live Egypt fund announced that it would allocate EGP21 million to pay off the debts of detainees of debt and to enable them to find jobs privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Tuesday. The project is a collaboration with Masr al-Kheir NGO which has a running program for debt detainees and has already succeeded in securing the release of 30,000 detainees, Ali Gomaa, Islamic scholar and the head of the board NGO’s board, said. Monthly pensions for those unable to work will also be issued through the Ministry of Social Solidarity, which often facilitates the process of paying off debts undertaken by charitable organizations such as Masr al-Kheir. [Mada Masr, 12/22/2015]

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Sixteen Egyptians arrested off Tunisia’s coast for illegal fishing
Tunisian coast guard authorities arrested 16 Egyptian fishermen on Monday night for illegally entering and trawl fishing on the coast of Zarzis, the Tunisian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday. In a statement issued on its official website, Tunisia’s ministry of defense announced that the 16 fishermen were arrested on Monday on board an Egyptian fishing boat called “Abu Ashraf” while fishing illegally along the coast of the city of Zarzis, in southeastern Tunisia. The fine for breaking into Tunisian territorial waters ranges between $20,000 to $220,000. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, 12/23/2015]

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