Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 15:06 UK

Egyptians jail 25 Brotherhood men

Muslim Brotherhoods members scuffle with police outside military court
Brotherhood members scuffled with riot police outside the military court

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt says 25 of its members, including its third most senior figure, have been sentenced to jail.

They were found guilty by a military court near Cairo. The court acquitted 15 other Brotherhood members.

The Islamist organisation is banned in Egypt, but its activities are usually tolerated to varying degrees.

A Brotherhood lawyer, Abdel Muniem Abdel Maqsoud, said he had not been allowed into court for the verdicts.

The defendants had been accused of joining an illegal group, violating the constitution, and obstructing the Egyptian authorities.

The Brotherhood's third most senior figure, Khayrat al-Shater, and another defendant, Hasan Malik, faced the additional charge of administering companies on behalf of the Brotherhood.

Reports say Shater and Malek were jailed for seven years.

Seven Brotherhood members were jailed for 10 years, while the 16 others received sentences of between 18 months and five years.

Thirty-four people were arrested when scuffles erupted outside the court at Haikstep, north-east of Cairo, ahead of the verdict. Relatives of the accused men tried to force their way into the building where the proceedings were held in camera.

Egyptian authorities accuse the Muslim Brotherhood of seeking to revive its underground military wing and eventually to topple the government.

Though banned, the Brotherhood holds about a fifth of the seats in the Egyptian parliament. Candidates stood as independents.

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