Egypt court bans Muslim Brotherhood's political wing

A man burns the logo of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Cairo on 23 August 2013 There has been a violent crackdown on the Brotherhood and the FJP since last August

A court in Egypt has dissolved the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing.

The ruling will effectively prevent the banned Islamist movement from formally participating in parliamentary elections expected later this year.

The government declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group in December.

It was accused of orchestrating a wave of violence to destabilise the country after the military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.

The Brotherhood has denied any connection to the jihadist militants based in the Sinai Peninsula who have killed hundreds of security personnel.

At the same time, more than 1,400 people have been killed and 16,000 detained in a crackdown by the authorities on Mr Morsi's supporters.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, a former military chief who was elected head of state in May, has vowed to wipe out the group.

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Analysis: Sally Nabil, BBC Arabic, Cairo

Dissolving the Freedom and justice Party (FJP) was expected. The political wing of the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement can no longer compete in the next parliamentary elections, expected to be held before the end of this year.

Its members can run either as individual candidates or form a new political party. But the latter is highly unlikely, given the severity of the crackdown on the Brotherhood.

The FJP's legal team strongly criticised Saturday's verdict, saying that it is politicised and is meant to serve the goals of the current regime. There was no longer a place for pluralism in Egypt, it said. According to the new constitution, no party can be formed on a religious basis.

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Assets confiscated

Saturday's ruling by the Cairo Administrative Court came after a report by its advisory panel that noted the FJP's leaders had been accused, and in some cases convicted, of murder and inciting violence.

A police investigation found the party's headquarters and offices had been used to store weapons, it said.

Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi stands inside a glassed-in defendant's cage (28 January 2014) Mohammed Morsi, a former chairman of the FJP, is facing four separate criminal trials on various charges

The court ordered that the FJP's assets be handed to the state.

The case was prompted by a complaint by the government's Committee of Political Parties Affairs, which accused the FJP of "irregularities".

The FJP was founded in 2011 following the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak from power.

It went on to dominate the subsequent elections for the lower and upper houses of parliament - Egypt's first democratic polls in six decades.

But in June 2012 the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) ruled that the vote for the lower house, the People's Assembly, had been unconstitutional and it was dissolved.

The upper house, the Shura Council, was dissolved by the SCC shortly after Mr Morsi was ousted in July 2013, and ceased to exist after the constitution was amended in January.

Mr Morsi, a former FJP chairman, is currently facing four separate criminal trials on various charges. Several other Brotherhood leaders, as well as hundreds of members, have been sentenced to death.

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