The Cairo Criminal Court postponed to 6 June the “Tanta Jihadist cell” trial, in which 13 alleged “Islamic State” (IS) affiliates are being tried for committing crimes targeting high-profile security personnel.
Six of the defendants are in detention, while the other seven are being tried in absentia. They are all charged with forming a militant group targeting police and military personnel, and attempting to topple the current government.
The prosecution’s investigations revealed that the defendants adopted a radical Islamist thought, which aims to “use violence against the ruler”.
Other “terrorist cells”, including Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, Al-Zawahri cell, Missiles cell, Ansar Al-Shari’a Brigades and Ajnad Misr, have been facing trial in Egyptian courts. The defendants in all cases are charged with killing security officers and illegal possession of weapons, amongst other charges.
In a recent development, the Sharqeya prosecution branch ordered the referral of 40 people to court on charges of joining IS, state media reported. They are charged with receiving military training in Syria, and contacting the militant group which is highly active.
The first court verdict to be issued on a “terrorist cell” was the Arab Sharkas cell, where the Supreme Military Court sentenced in October 2014 seven defendants to death, and two to life in prison. The sessions were held in the military area in the Hikestep military camp on the Ismailia-Cairo road.
One of the nine men was tried and convicted in absentia, while two others were sentenced to life. The six men remaining in custody “are at risk of execution any time”, international rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
Egypt’s authorities have been engaged in a violent confrontation with militant groups ever since the ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.