A file photo of Preacher Wagdi Ghonim (Photo: Al-Ahram Arabic website)
A Cairo criminal court issued a preliminary death sentence on Sunday against controversial Muslim preacher Wagdy Ghoneim and two other men after they were convicted of inciting to murder security forces and Christians, Ahram Arabic website reported.
Today's death sentence ruling against Ghoneim and his co-defendants awaits the non-binding consultative opinion of the country’s grand mufti, as per Egypt's penal code, before it becomes official.
The court sentenced the controversial Salafist preacher in absentia.
Ghoneim is believed to be currently residing in Turkey.
The court has set 29 April to issue its final verdict against Ghoneim, and announce verdicts against five others in the case.
In 2016, Egypt’s high state security prosecution referred the eight defendants to court on charges of founding an illegal group with the aim of obstructing the law, preventing state institutions from doing their jobs, and attacking the personal freedoms of citizens. The defendants were also charged with inciting to topple the regime and attack Christians and security forces.
Any final death sentence against Ghoneim and the two other defendants is subject to appeal.
Ghoneim has faced several lawsuits and trials in Egypt since 2012 over statements considered offensive to women and Christians.