Saturday in Egypt’s courts: Verdicts in several cases concerning members of ‘banned organizations’

A number of high-profile cases were heard Saturday in Egyptian courts, including a hearing to determine the fate of two men arrested at the Salloum border with Libya last year — accused of being members of an armed militant group, the trial of several defendants in relation to the assassination of former General Prosecutor Hesham Barakat in 2015 and a case concerning a raid on Tebeen Police Station in 2013. Mubarak-era Interior Minister Habib al-Adly’s hearing for squandering public funds was also adjourned Saturday.

Returnees from Libya case

Cairo Criminal Court upheld death sentences on Saturday for two men convicted of being members of an armed group.

Ahmed Mohamed al-Sayed and Mahmoud Eid Ahmed Khalil, who were arrested at the Salloum border crossing with Libya last year, were sentenced to death by hanging in the “returnees from Libya” case.

The verdict is final, having been already approved by Grand Mufti Shawky Allam, which is standard procedure in Egypt but not legally binding.

The defendants were charged with affiliation with an outlawed group, attempting to bring down the state, use of terrorism and supplying members with funding and arms. They were also accused of carrying out terrorist activities outside Egypt.

Dating back to February 2015, the case includes 16 defendants: four of whom were handed life sentences of 25 years, one who was sentenced to 15 years, and seven who received 3 years, according to the privately owned daily Al-Shorouk newspaper.

Egyptian armed forces conducted airstrikes on Libyan targets in February 2015, killing 64 alleged members of the Islamic State in response to the execution of 21 expatriate Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic State-affiliated groups in Libya. However a Human Rights Watch statement asserted that at least seven civilians were also killed in the attacks, including three children.

Prosecutor General Hesham Barakat’s assassination

A Cairo criminal court heard witness testimonies Saturday in a case trying 67 people for the assassination of former Prosecutor General Hesham Barakat, the privately owned Aswat Masreya reported.

The prosecutor alleged in May that a National Security Agency investigation found the defendants to be members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood organization, responsible for carrying out the assassination in coordination with Hamas.

Barakat was killed by a car bomb near his Heliopolis home in June 2015. The incident was the first assassination of a prosecutor general in Egyptian history, and the most significant assault on a high-profile government official since a wave of violence against police and military forces began in the aftermath of former President Mohamed Morsi’s military-mandated ouster in July 2013.

Tebeen Police Station raid

A Cairo criminal court also sentenced 21 defendants to 15 years in prison, 15 defendants to 10 years, and 11 defendants to seven years Saturday in a case concerning a raid on Tebeen Police Station in Helwan after the Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda Square sit-in dispersals in 2013, the privately owned Al-Watan newspaper reported.

The defendants were convicted of thuggery, the attempted murder of police personnel, setting a police station on fire, attempting to help prisoners escape, the illegal possession of weapons and joining a banned organization.

Mubarak’s Interior Minister Habib al-Adly

Also on Saturday, a Cairo appeals court adjourned a hearing concerning former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and 12 of his associates on charges of squandering public funds to November 22, the privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper reported.

The former officials have been accused of misappropriating LE1.8 billion in state funds through illicit bonuses for police officers and leading ministry figures between 2000 and 2011. The case dates back to 2012, and the defendants were issued travel bans in 2013.

Adly was serving time for illegal profiteering, until he was acquitted by a Giza criminal court in March and released from jail.

Adly is not the only Mubarak-era figure to be acquitted over the last few years. In February, both Adly and Mubarak-era Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif were acquitted of charges of squandering LE92 million in public funds through a deal fabricating license plates, which carried a five-year sentence.

In June 2014, Adly was also acquitted of graft and money laundering charges, accused of pocketing LE5 million from corrupt deals during his time in office. He was sentenced to 12 years, but a court of cassation overturned the ruling.

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