An Egyptian court has issued a ruling dissolving the political wing of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. It is the latest step in a campaign to crush the Islamist movement.
The Supreme Administrative Court in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, issued its ruling on Saturday in response to several lawsuits accusing the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) of involvement in illegal acts, judicial sources said.
Ahead of the ruling, the court’s advisory panel had presented a recommendation noting that the party’s leaders had already been accused, and in some cases convicted, of murder and inciting violence. The recommendation also stated that police had found weapons depots in the party headquarters and offices.
The court ordered that the party’s assets be seized as part of its dissolution.
According to media reports, the decision to dissolve the FJP is final and cannot be appealed.
The Muslim Brotherhood itself had been banned by a court decree in September, and the government designated the group as a terrorist organization three months later.
However, the September ruling did not mention the group’s political wing, meaning that the FJP could possibly have run in parliamentary elections.
Saturday’s verdict now effectively excludes the Brotherhood from formal participation in electoral politics.
The decision comes ahead of new parliamentary elections expected later this year.
The FJP was founded in 2011 and went on to dominate subsequent legislative elections. But Egyptian authorities launched a sometimes brutal crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013 after the army deposed president Mohammed Morsi, a senior leader in the Islamist group. More than a thousand people are thought to have died in the violence.
Some 200 other Muslim Brotherhood members, including its leader, Mohammed Badie, were sentenced to death in March of this year, though none of the sentences has yet been carried out.
Morsi himself remains in jail, accused on several charges, including colluding with foreign groups to destabilize Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood has always denied any link to violence, accusing authorities of oppression.