Court adds 1,529 to terrorist list opening door to possible asset seizures

One thousand, five hundred and twenty-nine people were added to Egypt’s terrorist list one day after legislation regarding the seizure of terrorist individuals and organizations’ assets was ratified, according to the Monday edition of the Official Gazette.   

The Cairo Criminal Court issued the order to re-add the Muslim Brotherhood group and 1,529 people, among them football star Mohamed Abu Treika, and Muslim Brotherhood leaders and their families, to the list on Thursday. In doing so, the court has allowed for the potential seizure of their assets in the first implementation of Law 22/2018, which was ratified by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on April 25.

Those added to the terrorist list are defendants in Case 620/2018. The prosecution requested the court add them following National Security Agency investigations conducted in early April that alleged that a number of defendants were providing financial support to the Muslim Brotherhood. The court order was also based on final verdicts issued against several of the defendants in terrorism-related cases.

According to the terrorist entities law, individuals included on Egypt’s terrorist list are not only liable to have their assets seized but are prevented from travel and are placed on a watch list in case those abroad try to enter the country.

Under the most recently passed law, once an individual or organization is placed on the terrorist list, a designated committee may submit a request, pro tempore, for their assets to be seized. The same committee, first formed in 2013 to “manage Muslim Brotherhood assets,” is also tasked with enumerating all assets related to asset seizure rulings.

Appeals against seizure orders may be submitted to a court of urgent matters. However, if the court rejects the appeal, its decision is considered final.

The passage of the new law marks the third attempt by the state to seize the assets of Muslim Brotherhood members and those designated terrorist entities. Committee efforts were halted by the State Council and appeals courts on two previous occasions. The new legislation permits the government to directly confiscate assets for the first time, rather than merely freezing them, safeguarding the committee against the judicial and administrative obstacles that impeded its previous attempts.

The first attempt came in 2013, when a court ruled to ban the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in Egypt and allowed for the seizure of its assets. The Cabinet subsequently formed the committee, which ordered the seizure over 1,500 people’s assets, including those of Abu Treika, who was accused of having Muslim Brotherhood ties. The State Council, however, overturned the committee’s decision and asserted that it did not have the proper jurisdiction over an individual’s assets.

In an effort to circumvent the administrative judiciary’s rulings and reassert the legitimacy of the committee, the state re-ordered the seizure of the assets in compliance with the terrorist entities law, which requires the prosecution to draft a terrorist list and submit it to a criminal court. If the court ruled in favor of labeling those on the list terrorists, their assets were seized.

In January 2017, the Cairo Criminal Court issued 1,538 judicial asset seizure orders to individuals whose assets were previously seized, and the committee resumed it duties. However, many appealed before the Court of Cassation and the committee’s decisions have been largely overturned.

In addition to accepting numerous appeals against people’s inclusion on the terrorist list in recent weeks, the Court of Cassation is expected to accept an appeal by Abu Treika against the decision to include him and over 1,500 others. The court’s prosecutorial office recommended that their appeals be accepted and the January seizure orders revoked.

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