Egypt military court sentences 7 to death on charges related to terrorism

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din, Tuesday 21 Oct 2014

7 sentenced to death, 2 to life imprisonment in Arab Sharkas case

Medical workers carry bodies from gun battle between militants and military officers in Arab Sharkas village, north of Cairo, Egypt, March 2014 (Photo:AP)

A military court sentenced seven Egyptian men to death and two to life in prison on charges of terrorism on Tuesday, in the first trial to be conducted concerning prominent Egyptian militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis.

The sentenced were charged in the case known as the Arab Sharkas case, named for a village in the governorate of Qaliubiya, north of Cairo, where security forces carried out a raid in March against a terrorist cell which claimed the lives of two military officers.

The verdict comes after the death sentences originally handed out in August were referred to Egypt's grand mufti for approval, a necessary procedure in Egyptian law.

The verdict was adjourned to 21 October after its previously scheduled date of 23 September. 

The defendant's charges include planning terrorist operations, shooting at security forces, attacking military facilities and naval ships and being members of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis.

Of the nine defendants in the case, only one was tried in absentia who was among the 7 sentenced to death.

The charges in the case involved the planning and perpetration of an attack on the mustorod checkpoint in Qaliubiya that killed six soldiers along with the attack on Cairo's security directorate headquarters in January and the attack against security forces raiding Arab Sharkas, among other incidents.

Lawyer of the defendants in the case. Adel Moawwad told Ahram Online the case will be appealed, insisting there are contradictions in the evidence presented to the court.

Moawwad insists three of the defendants accused of the mustorod attack were in custody of Egyptian security forces when the attack took place.

Egypt's 2014 constitution gives military tribunals jurisdiction over crimes committed against army facilities and personnel, an authority which caused controversy as opponents of the article insist civilians should not be subject to military trials.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for many of the attacks against army and police forces in Egypt following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and the violent dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood-led Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in.

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