Court sen­tences 17 to death for killing Chris­tians

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - WORLD - SAMY MAGDY

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.

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