Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and eight other Muslim Brotherhood members were acquitted on Thursday in a retrial of a case dating back to violent clashes that broke out in Giza in 2013, according to defense lawyer Alaa Alam Eddin.
Freedom and Justice Party secretary general Mohamed al-Beltagy, former Supply Minister Bassem Kamel and Safwat Hegazy were among the other Brotherhood leaders acquitted by the Giza Criminal Court in Case 7101/2013, Alam Eddin told Mada Masr.
Lawyer Osama al-Helw told Mada Masr that the court also ruled to release three defendants — Abdel Razeq Mahmoud Abdel Razeq, who was sentenced to death in absentia in a preliminary ruling in August 2014, Essam Rageb Rashwan and Mohamed Gomaa Hassan.
The case dates back to July 22, 2013, when violent clashes broke out in front of Giza’s Istiqama Mosque in the wake of the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi, resulting in the deaths of at least nine people and the injury of approximately 20.
“Witness testimony did not prove the guilt of the defendants with certainty, but simply accused the Muslim Brotherhood without identifying a specific actor from the group,” Judge Moataz Khafagy told Al-Shorouk when asked about the reason for Thursday’s acquittals. “The police investigation was not sufficient to build a definitive verdict.”
On August 30, 2014, the Giza Criminal Court, headed by Mohamed Nagy Shahata, issued life sentences for all eight of the defendants and the death penalty for six others tried in absentia. The ruling came after the case was raised to Egypt’s grand mufti twice, on June 19, 2014 and August 7, 2017, who refused to ratify the sentence.
A-Masry al-Youm quoted the mufti’s decision not to ratify the death sentences, saying that, “The case file does not contain evidence, just the statement of a National Security Agency officer, which is not supported by any evidence other his testimony. This is not sufficient for the implementation of the death penalty.”
The Court of Cassation overturned the preliminary ruling on October 22, 2016. Abdel Razeq Mahmoud Abdel Razeq, who was issued a death sentence in absentia, had made a formal request for retrial on October 1, 2016. However, the Cassation Court overturned the ruling on November 2, 2017, preceding Thursday’s acquittal.
Defendants in the case faced charges including murder, attempted murder, weapons possession, vandalism, destroying property and illegal assembly.
Beltagy’s acquittal marks the second such verdict in his favor within the past few weeks, following his acquittal last month in a case related to clashes that broke out in front of the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in 2013. He was one of several Brotherhood leaders who received death sentences in September 2018 in relation to the 2013 Rabea al-Adaweya dispersal.