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Egypt court sentences former army officer and 36 others to death

An Egyptian criminal court today sentenced to death a former Egyptian military officer, who defected from the army and joined jihadists, along with 36 other militants, for their alleged responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks in the country.

Hisham Ashmawi and other defendants were convicted of 54 charges after carrying out several terror attacks including assassinations of policemen, according to local media.

The ruling comes after the defendants’ case was referred to the Grand Mufti, Egypt’s highest Islamic religious authority. Under Egyptian law, death sentences must be referred to the Mufti before they are officially issued, although the Mufti’s opinion is not binding.

The Egyptian authorities accused Ashmawi and the other defendants of belonging to Al-Murabitoun militant group and attacking a security checkpoint in Farafra (West of the capital Cairo) in July 2014. The attack killed 28 army personnel, including two officers.

He was also accused of carrying out bombings that targeted the Italian consulate in Cairo and the National Security headquarters in Shubra (north of Cairo), as well as attempting to assassinate the public prosecutor of the State Security Prosecution.

Ashmawi was also charged with establishing and leading a terrorist group, Al Murabitoon, a jihadi group which is loyal to Al-Qaeda and which Ashmawi founded after he broke ranks with the Isis-affiliate Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis. He is accused of espionage for with a foreign entity, namely the Palestinian Hamas movement, sabotage of state installations, and premeditated murder.

Ashmawy was found and arrested in the eastern Libyan city of Derna in late 2018. He was handed to Egypt by authorities loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar in May last year.

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