Egypt sentences 20 to death for killing policemen in 2013

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-03 03:25:41|Editor: Mengjie

Defendants are seen in a cage during their trial in Cairo, Egypt on July 2, 2017. An Egyptian court sentenced on Sunday 20 people to death over charges of murdering 12 police officers in 2013, state-run MENA news agency reported. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

CAIRO, July 2 (Xinhua) -- An Egyptian court sentenced on Sunday 20 people to death over charges of murdering a dozen of policemen while storming a police station in mid-2013, official MENA news agency reported.

The death sentences issued by Cairo Criminal Court can still be appealed.

The assault, known as "Kerdasa massacre," took place in August of 2013, when dozens of militants stormed the main police station in Kerdasa district of Giza province near Cairo, leaving 17 dead, including 14 policemen.

Most of the militants were loyalists of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

The incident came more than a month after Morsi's military removal on July 3, 2013 and shortly after a massive security crackdown on two pro-Morsi sit-ins on August 14, 2013 in Cairo and Giza, which left hundreds dead and thousands more arrested.

In the retrial of 156 defendants in the case, including the 20 sentenced to death, the court sentenced 80 defendants to 25 years in prison, 34 to 15 years, a minor to 10 years and acquitted 21.

The case originally involved 188 defendants including fugitives.

In February 2015, the court sentenced 183 of them to death and a minor to 10 years in jail. After appeals, later in February 2016, the Court of Cassation ordered the retrial of 156 of them.

In April 2017, the criminal court recommended death penalty for 20 of them and referred their case documents to the Grand Mufti, the country's interpreter of religious law, to get his religious opinion on their execution. He later approved.

Morsi was removed by the military in early July of 2013 after mass protests against his one-year rule and his Brotherhood group.

Since then, anti-government activities targeting police and military men, and later the Coptic minority, have prevailed in the country, leaving hundreds dead, with most of the attacks claimed by a Sinai-based group loyal to the regional Islamic State militant group.

The Egyptian leadership believes that the Brotherhood is behind all terror activities despite the group's denials and claims of peacefulness.

The security forces continue pursuing Brotherhood members and loyalists over terrorist charges.

On Sunday, the police said they arrested seven people belonging to the outlawed group over plotting to make use of crises, pit public opinion and incite anti-government attitude particularly after the recent fuel price hikes.

Most Brotherhood leaders, including Morsi and the group's top chief Mohamed Badie, are currently in custody and many of them received appealable death sentences and life imprisonments over various charges varying from inciting violence and murder to espionage and jailbreak.

Morsi himself is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence over inciting clashes between his supporters and opponents outside a presidential palace in Cairo in late 2012 that killed 10.

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