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Military court sentences 7 to death

A military court sentenced seven people to death on Tuesday, in the case known as the Arab Sharkas Cell, according to the No to Military Trials campaign.

The court also sentenced two to life in prison, the campaign said. The nine defendants were on trial for leading and taking part in a cell affiliated with Ansar Beit al-Maqdes.

Last August, the court referred the case to the Grand Mufti for a final verdict on the death sentences handed down to the seven defendants.

The final verdict was originally scheduled for September 23 but was postponed to October 21.

The military prosecution accused the defendants of planning and executing an armed attack on a bus transporting soldiers in Cairo’s Amiriya district on March 13, 2014, which resulted in the death of a sergeant in the Armed Forces.

Two days later, another attack killed six soldiers at a military police checkpoint in the Musturud area of southern Cairo. On March 19, a brigadier and a colonel in the Armed Forces were killed when the Armed Forces raided an abandoned warehouse in Ezbet Arab Sharkas in Qalyubia, which gave the group the name “Arab Sharkas cell.”

The military prosecution claims that six of those accused of committing the attacks in Amiriya and Musturud were killed during the exchange of gunfire in the Arab Sharkas incident. The defendants currently on trial were apprehended in that raid, according to the indictment record.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdes has increasingly targeted police and military personnel following Mohamed Morsi’s ouster on July 3, 2013.

The group has claimed responsibility for the attempted assassination of Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, the bombing of the Cairo Security Directorate, a deadly assault on a tourist bus and several other attacks on police stations and security checkpoints. Security forces claim Ansar Beit al-Maqdes’ operations have claimed the lives of at least 200 soldiers and officers.