Cairo: An Egyptian military court on Monday acquitted Mohammed al-Zawahiri, the brother of al Qaeda`s leader Ayman, overturning a death sentence in a new trial, his lawyer and his son said.
The court also acquitted Mohammed Islambouli, whose Islamist brother Khaled assassinated president Anwar Sadat in 1981, they said. They had been convicted of planning militant attacks.
"Thank God, he was found innocent," Zawahiri`s son Abdelrahman told a news agency by telephone after the verdict.
"We expect him to be released in the next few days," his lawyer Kamel Mandur said.
In 1998, Zawahiri and Islambouli were sentenced on charges of undergoing military training in Albania and planning military operations in Egypt.
Mandur said the trial also acquitted several other former militants including Sayyed Imam Fadl, once the spiritual leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and mentor of Ayman al-Zawahiri.
But Fadl, like the others acquitted, had shunned violence in the late 1990s and engaged in a war of letters with Ayman al-Zawahiri, denouncing al Qaeda`s use of violence. Islambouli returned from exile in Iran after a popular uprising overthrew president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, joining a number of Egyptian Islamist militants returning to the country after the ouster of their nemesis.
Under the military, which took power after Mubarak`s ouster, several jailed Islamist militant leaders have been released, including Islamic Jihad leader Abud al-Zumor.
The formerly militant Gamaa Islamiya, involved in Sadat`s murder, has even formed a party with representation in the Islamist-dominated parliament. (AFP)