Court sentences 17 to death for killing Christians
CAIRO — An Egyptian military court on Thursday sentenced 17 Islamic militants to death for involvement in deadly attacks on Christians, a rights lawyer said.
The court also issued life sentences to 19 defendants and sentenced another nine to 15 years in prison on terror-related charges, lawyer Khaled el-Masry said. Another defendant got a 10-year term, he said.
Military prosecutors had accused the defendants of belonging to Islamic State and plotting attacks against Christian churches and security forces, elMasry said.
El-Masry said the defendants were tried for their involvement in a suicide bombing inside a Cairo chapel adjacent to St. Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of Egypt’s ancient Coptic Orthodox Church, in December 2016. The attack killed at least 25 people.
Some were convicted of plotting twin suicide bombings in churches in Alexandria and Tanta, on Palm Sunday in April 2017, killing at least 45 people, el-Masry said.
Both attacks were claimed by Islamic State. Some were also convicted of killing eight police in a militant attack on a checkpoint in the Western Desert in January 2017.
The Palm Sunday bombings prompted President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to declare a state of emergency that is still in place.
Christians make up about 10 per cent of Egypt’s population. They have long complained of discrimination in the Muslim-majority nation and claim that authorities have often failed to protect them from sectarian attacks.