Egypt sends 58 to military trial for 'terrorist attacks'

Egypt sends 58 to military trial for 'terrorist attacks'
Egyptian authorities refer 58 Islamists to face military courts for alleged 'terrorism' offences, as outrage grows at the mass trials of opponents of the coup regime in Cairo.
3 min read
15 June, 2015
Hundreds have been sentenced to death in speedy mass trials [Getty]

Egypt on Sunday referred 58 Islamists suspected of links with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to a military court over alleged "terrorist attacks" against the police and public property.

The authorities have waged a deadly crackdown against the Brotherhood since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, and accuse the movement of being behind attacks against the security forces.

Prosecutors accuse the 58 Islamists, 37 of whom are in custody, of working for the Brotherhood and carrying out "terrorist attacks" between August 2013 and October 2014.

They were charged with "attempted murder of police officers, acts of sabotage against public buildings and property, resisting security forces, and vandalism," a prosecution statement said.

It said the accused wanted to deal a blow to the Egyptian economy, already battered by years of political turmoil, and sow terror among the people.

Court sentences 23 for Shia killings 

Torture and ill-treatment at these facilities are routine.
- Human Rights Watch

Meanwhile, an Egyptian court sentenced 23 people to 14 years in prison Saturday for the killings by an angry mob of four Shia men outside Cairo two years ago.

The four dead were among Shiites attacked in June 2013 by a mob of several hundred residents as they gathered at a house in the town of Abu Musallam.

The court handed down the sentences on Saturday, acquitting eight other defendants, a court official said.

Shia are a tiny minority in mainly Sunni Muslim Egypt, making up less than one percent of the population.

Radical Islamist preachers have often targeted the Shiite community in sermons, accusing them of being under the influence of Shiite Iran.

Retrial for 16 in Sinai police killings case

In another development, an Egyptian court Saturday ordered the retrial of 16 people sentenced to death or long prison terms for their involvement in the deaths of 25 policemen in the restive Sinai peninsula.

They were among 35 people accused of involvement in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a police bus in August 2013 that was travelling to Rafah, on the border with the Gaza Strip.

In December, a court sentenced seven to death - six of them in absentia - and three others to life in prison. A further 22 were sentenced to 15 years in jail and three were acquitted.

But on Saturday, the Court of Cassation overturned the sentences of 16 prisoners convicted of direct involvement in the attack and ordered their retrial, according to an official.

It said there had been procedural irregularities in their trial.

Militants have killed scores of policemen and soldiers in an insurgency in the Sinai peninsula since the army overthrew Morsi in 2013.

International condemnation

More than 40,000 people have been detained since then, according to Human Rights Watch, with hundreds sentenced to death in speedy mass trials.

"Torture and ill-treatment at these facilities are routine," HRW said in a report last week, outlining what it called "flagrant human rights abuses" during the first year in power of Sisi.

Egypt has rejected these accusations as "baseless and false".

"We don't use these methods. If anyone has proof, they should file a formal complaint to the interior ministry," a senior police official from the ministry's media department told AFP.