Egypt sen­tences 7 to death over Daesh links, be­head­ings


CAIRO: An Egyp­tian court has sen­tenced seven peo­ple to death over links to the Daesh group in Libya.

The court on Saturday con­demned them to death on charges of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the be­head­ing in Libya in 2015 of 21 Egyp­tian Cop­tic Chris­tian work­ers — all but one of them from Egypt, ju­di­cial of­fi­cials said.

Other charges in­clude be­long­ing to a mil­i­tant group af­fil­i­ated with a Daesh branch in Libya, weapons pos­ses­sion and in­cit­ing vi­o­lence.

Daesh in Libya posted a video on the In­ter­net in Fe­bru­ary 2015 of the grue­some be­head­ings on a Libyan beach, spark­ing in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion and Egyp­tian airstrikes against mil­i­tant tar­gets in the neigh­bor­ing Arab state.

Egypt again struck in May what it said were mil­i­tant tar­gets in Libya af­ter Daesh claimed a mas­sacre of Cop­tic Chris­tians on their way to a monastery south of Cairo.

Saturday’s rul­ing refers the case to the grand mufti, the coun­try’s top the­o­log­i­cal au­thor­ity, to so­licit his non-bind­ing opinion on the sen­tences. The re­fer­ral is a for­mal­ity in cases of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. The ver­dict is sub­ject to ap­peal.

Death sen­tences in Egypt are sub­ject to re­view by the coun­try’s mufti as the of­fi­cial in­ter­preter of Is­lamic law, al­though his ver­dict is not legally bind­ing.

Of the seven de­fen­dants, three were sen­tenced to death in ab­sen­tia, the of­fi­cials said. An un­spec­i­fied num­ber of those con­demned were ac­cused of hav­ing taken part in the be­head­ings.

Pros­e­cu­tors ac­cused the seven sus­pects of mem­ber­ship of a Daesh cell in Marsa Ma­truh, north­west Egypt, and of plan­ning at­tacks af­ter hav­ing re­ceived mil­i­tary train­ing at mil­i­tant camps in Libya and Syria.

The court has set a Nov. 25 date for is­su­ing the fi­nal ver­dict in the case, which in­volves 20 de­fen­dants in the same case.

Egypt has been bat­tling an in­sur­gency by a Daesh af­fil­i­ate based in North Si­nai since the mil­i­tary’s ouster in 2013 of Pres­i­dent Muham­mad Mursi.

Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah El-Sisi said mil­i­tary re­verses for Daesh group in war-torn Syria were driv­ing its fight­ers to try to re­lo­cate to Libya and the Si­nai Penin­sula of east­ern Egypt.

Hun­dreds of mem­bers of Egypt’s se­cu­rity forces have been killed, while more than 100 Copts have died in church bomb­ings since De­cem­ber.

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