Cairo, 2 March 2020 (dpa/MIA) – An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced 37 defendants, including a key militant, to death over terrorism-related charges.
The verdict against Hesham Ashmawi, a former Egyptian army officer, and the other defendants was issued by the Cairo Criminal Court.
Ashmawi was arrested in Libya’s eastern city of Derna, a stronghold of Islamist militias, in late 2018 and handed over to Egyptian authorities in May.
The defendants were convicted of belonging to the militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, now known as “Sinai Province,” an affiliate of Islamic State, which is active in North Sinai.
They were charged with committing 54 crimes, including murder, spying for foreign organizations such as the Palestinian Hamas movement, sabotaging state institutions and violating citizens’ rights.
The court also sentenced 61 other defendants to life in jail, and 87 others to prison terms ranging between 15 and 5 years in the same case.
The case involved 207 defendant, of them 22 have died. Monday’s verdicts can be appealed.
In November, Ashmawi was sentenced to death by hanging in another terrorism case.
Ashmawi was accused of planning a 2013 assassination attempt against Egypt‘s then-interior minister Mohammed Ibrahim.
He was also charged with involvement in a string of attacks on Egyptian security forces before he fled to neighbouring Libya in late 2017.
Egypt has seen a wave of militant attacks, mainly targeting the country’s security forces and Christian minority, since the army’s 2013 overthrow of the democratically elected but divisive Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.