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Egypt court imprisons opposition leader for illegally entering Gaza

[JURIST] An Egyptian military court on Wednesday sentenced an Islamist opposition leader to two years in prison for illegally entering Gaza. Magdy Ahmed Hussein, leader of the Labor Party [party website, in Arabic], was arrested last month on suspicion of crossing into the territory via an illegal tunnel. Hussein was also fined 5,000 Egyptian pounds, or about USD $900. Hussein's trial has been criticized by human rights groups for the decision to prosecute under military law [EOHR press release] and restrictions placed on Hussein's access to lawyers [ANHRI press release].

Hussein's trial was carried out under the emergency laws [EOHR backgrounder] that have been in effect since the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and were renewed [JURIST report] in May 2008. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] sharply criticized the renewal [JURIST report], saying the move showed "contempt for the rule of law." Egypt has used military tribunals extensively against members of the Muslim Brotherhood [party website; JURIST news archive].

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