Egypt military court sentences 36 people to death over deadly 2017 church bombings

Ahram Online , Tuesday 10 Apr 2018

File photo: The aftermath of the suicide bombing in Alexandria, Egypt, April 9, 2017 Reuters

An Alexandria military court issued on Tuesday preliminary death sentences against 36 people convicted of involvement in deadly bombings on two Egyptian churches in Alexandria and Tanta in April 2017.

The case involves 48 defendants, 31 of whom are in custody and 17 are fugitives.

The court has referred the case to the country's Grand Mufti for his non-binding opinion on the death sentence as per Egyptian law. The verdict is subject to appeal.

According to the prosecution, a number of the defendants formed an illegal group that calls for the suspension of the law and the constitution, the obstruction of state institutions from carrying out their duties, and assaulting the personal freedom of citizens.

The prosecution charged three of the defendants with training a number of the group’s members in manufacturing explosives, using weaponry, and combat tactics at training camps.

The defendants were convicted of a number of terrorist attacks against civilians and policemen in 2016 and 2017.

In April 2017, suicide bombers attacked St George's Church in Tanta and St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria on Palm Sunday, killing 46 people and injuring dozens.

Both attacks were claimed by the Daesh terrorist group.

One day after the April attacks, the interior ministry said that police had killed seven members of a terrorist cell involved in the bombings in a shootout in Upper Egypt's Assiut governorate.

A three-month state of emergency – which has since been renewed every three months – was declared by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on the day of the church attacks.

The defendants were also charged with participating in a January 2017 attack on a security checkpoint in Egypt’s New Valley governorate near the Western Desert, killing eight policemen.

The attack on the Naqb checkpoint took place some 80 kilometres away from the provincial capital of Al-Kharga, and more than 600 kilometres southwest of Cairo.

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