Cairo Criminal Court on Thursday lifted a media gag order on the trial of 213 alleged members of Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis.
One-hundred and forty-three defendants were present in court for today’s first trial session, while the rest are being tried in absentia, Aswat Masriya reported
The defendants are charged with 54 separate crimes, including killing police and the attempted assassination of Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim.
Tamer El-Fergany, head of the Supreme State Security Prosecution, said investigations show the defendants are linked to a series of attacks on security installations in North Sinai and other governorates, including a blast in Daqahliya in December 2013 that killed at least 16 people.
Prosecutors previously charged the defendants with forming, leading and joining a terrorist group, assaulting citizens’ rights and freedoms, harming national peace and unity, sabotage of state property, espionage with Hamas, the de facto leaders of Gaza, murder, attempted murder and illegal weapons possession.
Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, the most active militant group in Egypt, has claimed responsibility for most of the major attacks against security forces and their installations, with the deadliest assaults taking place in the restive Sinai Peninsula.
It swore allegiance in 2014 to the regional Islamic State (IS) militant group, which has a presence in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and has changed the name of the Egyptian IS-affiliate to the Sinai Province.