Islamist preacher Wagdy Ghoneim and two others were handed death sentences on Sunday by Cairo Criminal Court for their involvement in establishing an “illegal organization.”
The preacher was sentenced in absentia, while Abdullah Hussein and Abdullah Fayyad, both of whom also now face the death penalty, are already being held in custody. The 13 other defendants in the case were sentenced to 25 years in jail and received a five-year ban on travel to Qatar, Syria and Turkey.
The defendants received a preliminary death sentence on April 2, contingent on the approval of Egypt’s grand mufti, which was given to facilitate Sunday’s ruling.
The charges the defendants in the case faced include forming an illegal organization that aims to obstruct the Constitution and the law, preventing state institutions and general authorities from carrying out their duties, establishing an organization that aims to declare the head of the Egyptian state as a heretic and inciting violence against Coptic Christians.
A former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ghoneim announced he would suspend his membership in the Islamist group on the morning in which the preliminary death sentence was delivered.
Ghoneim is known in post revolutionary Egypt for his public incitement against Copts and women, whom he has judged to not be sufficiently modest.
Egyptian courts have issued several death sentences in the past few years, often targeting Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood members accused of terrorism-related charges. The frequency with which death penalties have been issued has prompted human rights organizations to advocate against the practice, proposing a five-year moratorium on capital punishment.