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Monday, September 27, 1999 Published at 23:39 GMT 00:39 UK

World: Middle East

Egypt liable over 1950s' torture

President Nasser outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood in 1954

A court in Cairo has ordered the Egyptian Government to pay compensation to two men tortured by police more than 40 years ago.

Mohammed Abdel Azim and Hassan Mohammed were jailed for two years in the 1950s for being members of the Muslim Brotherhood. They are now in their 70s.

The court ruled that both men had suffered physical and mental torture and should be paid the equivalent of $9,000 each.

It said its ruling was based on the United Nations convention against torture, which Egypt accepted in 1986.

It added that the Brotherhood - Egypt's largest Islamic movement - had been a legal organisation when the men were arrested.

The then Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood after an attempt on his life in Alexandria in 1954.

It is the first time an Egyptian court has awarded damages to people detained during President Nasser's rule.

Thousands of members of the Muslim Brotherhood were held without trial over a 20-year period, and some of its leaders were executed.

The organisation remains illegal, but has been tolerated since 1976.

The Brotherhood advocates turning Egypt into a strict Muslim state by political means.

However, Egypt's current president, Hosni Mubarak, has accused it of supporting Islamic militants.

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