File photo: Salafist lead Mohamed El-Zawahiri (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt's public prosecutor on Sunday ordered the referral of 68 persons, including prominent jihadist-Salafist Mohamed El-Zawahri, to a criminal court on accusations of orchestrating terrorist attacks in the country.
The defendants are charged with establishing and running a terrorist organisation that aims to "declare the state an infidel and to forcefully change the regime."
El-Zawahri – brother of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman El-Zawahri – was sentenced to death in absentia in 1999 for a handful of terrorist attacks in Egypt, including the 1997 killing of 62 foreign tourists in the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor.
In June 2011, a military court accepted El-Zawahri's appeal against the death verdict and the case was closed.
The statement issued by the prosecution's office on Sunday also accused the defendants of orchestrating attacks against the police as well as army properties and personnel, in addition to targeting Coptic Christians and their houses of worship.
Twenty-five defendants have already confessed, according to the prosecution, to being involved in terrorist attacks.
Fifty of the defendants are currently in police custody, while an arrest warrant has been issued for the remaining 18.
El-Zawahri was detained at a checkpoint in Giza on 17 August.
Egypt has seen a spike in terrorist attacks mainly targeting security installations and personnel since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
A statement issued by the Egyptian foreign ministry on Saturday revealed that 469 people have died from militant attacks following Morsi's ouster.