An administrative court overruled on Tuesday 17 rulings on the seizure of Muslim Brotherhood-member assets previously ordered by a government committee in the past year.
Whilst the court did not disclose exact details of the assets and relevant Brotherhood figures, the decision includes “companies and business establishments and schools” that will be unfrozen. The decision may pertain to the leading figures from the movement, who the seizures committee has mainly been concerned with.
The assets have been unfrozen on the basis of wrongful legal procedures, with the court announcing that the original seizure “ignored the provisions of the constitution and the law”.
Referring to the government-formed committee tasked with confiscating Muslim Brotherhood property, the ruling stated: “A criminal court is the appropriate body to freeze funds and property, and preventing owners from accessing what is theirs cannot be done with an administrative decision.”
However, Abdulla El-Haddad, a Muslim Brotherhood press office spokesperson, told Daily News Egypt he does not believe the judgement represents a moderation of the severe judgements recently handed out to the movement by courts.
“As far as [its] political aspect [goes], as we have witnessed over [the] past few years, the judiciary in Egypt has been used as a tool by the authoritarian regime to settle political scores, and have lost credibility,” he said. “Cases are largely decided based on the whims and desires of the military establishment and on trumped up charges, not on due process of the law.”
“We cannot comment on the legal aspects of the decision as our attorneys are currently assessing it and we will issue a statement when they are done,” he added
The committee tasked with assessing Brotherhood property and funds was formed in October 2013 by the Ministry of Justice. It has since seized assets and institutions affiliated with key Brotherhood figures, including former President Mohammed Morsi, Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, deputies Khairat Al-Shater, Rashad Bayoumi, Mahmoud Ezzat, and Gomaa Amin among others.
In January of this year, the committee froze the assets of 702 Brotherhood members and seizures have been ongoing through the year with significant cases also in May and September.
The committee also placed 87 Brotherhood-affiliated schools under the administrative and financial supervision of the Education Ministry, as well as over 1,050 NGOs had their funds frozen who were believed to be associated with the organisation.
The Muslim Brotherhood movement was declared a terrorist unit on 25 December, although it was originally outlawed in September 2013. However, asset seizures of its members and prominent Islamists, ordered by General Prosecutor Hisham Barakat, began in July 2013 immediately following the ouster of Brotherhood affiliated president Mohammed Morsi,