Egypt court sentences 2 to death, 9 to jail over 2017 terrorist attack on a Coptic church

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Ayat Al Tawy , Sunday 12 May 2019

File Photo: A man talks on the phone outside the Mar Mina Church after a blast, in Helwan district on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt December 29, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)

A Cairo criminal court sentenced two men to death on Sunday and handed down prison terms to a number of others over a 2017 terrorist attack on a Coptic church south of Cairo that killed 11 people.

The attack took place in Helwan district on the outskirt of Cairo when gunmen opened fire on the Coptic Orthodox church of Mar Mina and a neighbouring Christian-owned shop in December 2017.

The Islamic State terrorist group later claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq news agency.

The court on Sunday sentenced two defendants to death, including the main assailant, who was arrested after being wounded shortly following the attack. The other defendant was sentenced in absentia.

Two others were sentenced in absentia to life in prison, four to 10 years and two to three years, while one was acquitted.

The defendants were convicted on charges including murder, attempted murder, and leading and financing a militant group.

Defendants sentenced in absentia in Egypt automatically receive retrials once they are arrested or turn themselves in.

The sentences can be appealed within 60 days before the Court of Cassation, the country's highest civilian court.

Egyptian security forces launched an extensive security operation in February 2018 to eliminate Islamist terrorists who have launched deadly attacks targeting police, soldiers and Christians over the past years.

Short link: