Giza Criminal Court sentenced 10 defendants to death and five others to life imprisonment on Saturday on charges of founding an illegal group, attacking the Armed Forces, targeting public establishments, inciting violence against Coptic Christians and possession of unlicensed firearms during the period from 2013 until March 2015.
The trial, which was has been dubbed the “Imbaba terror cell” case in local media outlets, began in September 2015.
The convictions were based on the testimony of three National Security Agency officers and the confessions of alleged group leader Mohamed Zaki and member Anas Hussein. The remaining defendants, however, denied all charges.
The defendants who received the death penalty are all in state custody, while three of the men who received life imprisonment were sentenced in absentia. One defendant died during the course of the trial.
Egyptian courts have issued death sentences in an unprecedented manner in recent years, handing out 44 death sentences in 2016 compared to 15 in 2014 and one in 2011.
In 2017, Egyptian authorities also carried out a high number death sentences issued by military courts, the first of which took place on December 26, when 15 people accused of killing security forces in 2013 were executed in Wadi al-Natrun Prison. Most recently, the Interior Ministry executed three civilians convicted by a military tribunal in 2011 on January 10.
Following the executions, several Egyptian human rights organizations issued a joint statement condemning the authorities’ use of the death penalty, asserting that “carrying on with the issuance of death sentences will not accomplish justice, and continuing to carry out these sentences issued by military tribunals undermines the values of justice and life.”