Egyptian court sends 14 Islamist militants to gallows



Cairo: An Egyptian court Monday upheld the death sentences awarded to 14 Islamist militants who carried out a deadly attack on a police station in North Sinai, killing an Army officer, five policemen and a civilian.

This is the first trial of Islamist militants under the rule of the government of Muslim Brotherhood.

The 14 men were convicted for attacking a police station in North Sinai's main town of Arish in July 2011, killing seven people, including five policemen, the court said.

Only six of the condemned men were present in court, others were convicted in absentia while one of the accused passed away during the trial.

Footage from inside the court showed the bearded defendants wearing the white overalls for detainees, standing or sitting in a metal cage. One of them was brought into court in a wheelchair.

The convicted were all accused of being members of Al-Tawhid Wal Jihad, one of the banned groups being targeted in a security crackdown on militants in the desert peninsula.

The group kept a low profile after its founders were killed by police following deadly bombings on tourist sites.

The group showed a resurgence after the January 25 revolution overthrew President Hosni Mubarak 18 months ago and some members of the group fled prison and began to regroup, security experts and residents in Sinai say.

The same court, in the city of Ismailia, on the west bank of the Suez Canal, will rule September 24 on the fate of another 11 defendants, also accused of being part of the group that was blamed for bombing tourist resorts in Sinai in 2004 and 2005.

Three bombings, targeting Israeli tourists at an Egyptian Red Sea hotel, killed 34 people in October 2004.

More than 80 people were killed and 200 injured when suspected car bombs rocked the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in July 2005.

PTI