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Egypt sentences dozens to life imprisonment for joining Daesh affiliate

Egyptian judge Mohamed Shirin Fahmi (C) reads out a verdict and sentence as he presides over the retrial of members of the Muslim Brotherhood at the Tora courthouse complex in southeastern Cairo on September 11, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

An Egyptian court has sentenced at least 37 people to jail terms, including life imprisonment, for joining or supporting a terror outfit affiliated to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, judicial sources say.

The judicial sources said on Monday that a Cairo criminal court sentenced eight defendants to life terms and 29 to terms ranging from one to 15 years.

This came after prosecutors accused them of planning attacks, promoting the group's ideology in prisons and financing its cells.

The defendants can appeal against the sentences at the court of cassation, Egypt's top civilian court.

Seven suspects were also acquitted.

Over the past few years, terrorists have been carrying out anti-government activities and fatal attacks, taking advantage of the turmoil in Egypt that erupted after the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted in a military coup in July 2013.

The Velayat Sinai terror group, which pledged allegiance to Daesh in 2014, has claimed responsibility for most of the assaults across Egypt, particularly those in the Sinai region, where the group is based.

It later expanded its attacks to target members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community as well as foreigners visiting the country, prompting Cairo to widen a controversial crackdown, which critics say has mostly targeted dissidents. 

In a separate development on Monday, another Cairo criminal court referred the cases of three men accused over a 2018 failed assassination attempt against Alexandria's security chief to Egypt's top religious authority.

Prosecutors said the defendants were part of a militant group called Hasm, which the government describes as an armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed as a “terrorist organization” in late 2013 following the ouster of Morsi, through a military coup by current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was at the time Morsi’s defense minister. The group denies any link with any militant activity.

Rights groups in Egypt and across the world have recorded cases of irregularities in the trials of political prisoners in the country. They say the army’s clampdown on the supporters of Morsi has led to the deaths of some 1,500 people and the arrests of 22,000 others, including 200 people who have been sentenced to death in mass trials.

In June last year, 67-year-old Morsi himself passed away during a trial court session in Cairo.

The Brotherhood operated under strict measures during the rule of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, who was himself removed from power following an uprising in 2011.

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