A court in Egypt has handed down death sentences to 11 people and life terms to more than a dozen others who are suspected of creating a “terrorist organization” and attempting to murder two policemen some three years ago.
Four of those sentenced to death on Sunday were tried in absentia by the Giza Criminal Court, which also sentenced 14 others to life in prison, which is 25 years in Egypt. The court also tried a juvenile in absentia and ruled that he must serve 10 years in jail.
All the defendants were accused of membership in a terror group, which is known to the Egyptian media as the Giza terrorist cell, and of taking part in “terrorist operations.” The sentences can be appealed.
The case dates back to 2014 when the prosecution accused the suspected people of joining an illegal outfit, violating personal freedoms, being in possession of, and manufacturing, explosive material, and attempted killing of two police officers, as well as destroying a police vehicle.
The defendants’ “criminal” activities followed the July 2013 ouster of the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in a military coup led by then head of the armed forces and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The controversial ouster sparked many protests by supporters of Morsi, including a pair that were held at al-Nahda Square and Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in the capital Cairo on August 13, 2013, which led to the killing of more than 700 demonstrators by police.
The Egyptian government has been cracking down on the opposition since the military coup. Rights groups say the army’s crackdown on the supporters of Morsi has led to the deaths of over 1,400 people and arrest of 22,000 others, including some 200 people who have been sentenced to death in mass trials.
The clampdown initially focused on Morsi’s supporters, but it later expanded to include other members of the opposition.
The Sunday court ruling came a day after militants, suspected to be members of the Hasm terror group, launched a deadly attack on police forces in southwest Cairo.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry said 16 policemen lost their lives in the incident while other officials put the death toll at 54. The Egyptian government has reportedly declared a three-month state of emergency across the Arab country following the lethal ambush.