CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's administrative court dissolved Saturday the political party of the banned Muslim Brotherhood and ordered its assets liquidated, in the latest move against the 86-year old Islamist group.
The decision against the Freedom and Justice Party comes ahead of parliamentary elections expected this year and prevents the group from trying to rejoin politics a year after leading member, President Mohammed Morsi, was overthrown by the military.
The party was founded by the Brotherhood, Egypt's historic Islamist movement founded in 1928, in 2011 after President Hosni Mubarak was deposed in a popular uprising and it went on to dominate subsequent legislative elections.
The court's decision comes after a recommendation by its advisory panel that noted the party's leaders had already been accused, and in some cases convicted, of murder and inciting violence. The recommendation added that the prosecutors' investigation revealed that the party headquarters and offices were used to store weapons.
The Middle East News Agency said the decision is final and can't be appealed.
Many members of the party and the group are in jail or have fled Egypt to evade prosecution, part of the government crackdown against the Brotherhood that also included drying up its finances and freezing its public outreach programs.
The party's online website quoted an unnamed senior member of the party saying the ruling was "vindictive" because it had refused to endorse the post-Morsi political order. The official criticized the fact that the court decision can't be appealed, adding that the party was unaware of any investigation in the case, and was surprised with the date of the ruling.
The government declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group late last year, accusing it of orchestrating a wave of violence to destabilize the country after the military overthrew Morsi in July of last year. Militant attacks against the police and military have surged since the coup.
The group denies it adopts violence as a tactic, saying the government is scapegoating the group, Egypt's strongest and oldest political organization that gained support because of its large network of social programs that mostly target the poor.
After coming to power, however, the group faced public anger over what critics said were its attempt to monopolize power, enshrine Islamic laws in the country's legislation and allying with more radical Islamist groups.
Since Morsi's ouster, the group has kept up its protests against the government, though they have been decreasing in size amid the security crackdown. Morsi himself is in jail facing a slew of charges, including conspiring with foreign groups to destabilize Egypt.