An Egyptian court has sentenced 24 Muslim Brotherhood members to death for the killing of police officers in two separate cases, a judicial source said.
The state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper said the Damanhour Criminal Court ordered the death penalty on Thursday for 16 defendants affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, including Mohamed Sweidan, a regional leader of the organisation, for their involvement in the bombing of a police bus in Rashid city in Beheira governorate in 2015.
The report added that the blast killed three police officers and wounded 39 others. The same court also handed down the death penalty to eight Muslim Brotherhood members, who were accused of killing a police officer in December 2014 in Ad Dilinjat city in Beheira.
The case was dropped for three of the defendants due to their deaths. Eight of the 24 accused were tried in absentia.
Al-Ahram did not clarify whether the verdicts are final or can be appealed. However, the Shehab Organization for Human Rights, based outside Egypt, said the verdicts are final as they were issued by an emergency court.
Capital punishment for civilian convicts in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, is carried out by hanging. There are no exact figures for death penalties issued in Egypt this year except for 10 handed down in April and those upheld against 12 Muslim Brotherhood leaders over the Rabaa sit-in dispersal case in 2013.
In February 2019, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi defended the death penalty at a summit between Arab and European states. Following the overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Egyptian authorities have cracked down on Muslim Brotherhood members and leaders and outlawed the group.
Founded in 1928 in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has established itself as the main opposition movement in Egypt despite decades of repression, and has inspired spinoff movements and political parties across the Muslim world. But it remains banned in several countries including Egypt for its alleged links to terrorism.
Earlier this year, Amnesty International slammed Egypt’s “significant spike” in recorded executions, which saw a more than threefold rise to 107 last year, from 32 in 2019.
: NEWS AGENCIES