Egypt’s top prosecutor on Sunday named 18 Muslim Brotherhood members, including the group’s leader and his deputy, as terrorists, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
In a statement, chief prosecutor Hisham Barakat said the decision follows a February court ruling that convicted Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, his deputy Khairat el-Shater, the head of the group’s political party Saad el-Katatni and others of orchestrating violence in 2013 that killed 11 people and wounded over 90 outside their office.
The clashes were at the start of mass protests against President Mohammed Morsi, also a member of the group, and days before the military ousted him.
Badie, el-Shater and el-Katatni along with senior leaders Mohammed el-Beltagy, Essam el-Erian and nine others were sentenced to life in prison. Another four were sentenced to death. The sentences can be appealed, noted AP.
But the new law, passed in February, allows prosecutors to freeze assets of the designated terrorists, barring them from public life or travel for renewable three-year periods based on the preliminary verdict and with the approval of a panel of judges.
The law also broadens the state’s definition of terrorism to include anyone who threatens public order “by any means.”
Since the Egyptian army ousted Morsi in July 2013, there has been a crackdown on Brotherhood supporters in the country.
Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds of alleged Brotherhood supporters to death in recent months, many in mass trials condemned by foreign governments and rights groups as violating international law.
The law passed in February drew criticism from rights groups who charged that it expands the state arsenal of legislation empowering authorities to go after political opponents with few, if any, options to redress miscarriages of justice.
The government says it needs the law in its campaign against an expanding insurgency by terrorist groups, including one that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group fighting in Iraq and Syria.
The government blames the Brotherhood for the violence, saying the group is seeking to destabilize the government after Morsi’s ouster. The group denies the charges.