Egyptian courts sentence 31 to death for killings, prison escape

Egyptian courts sentence 31 to death for killings, prison escapeEgyptian courts sentence 31 to death for killings, prison escape

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian courts on Thursday sentenced 31 people to death in two separate cases, one involving the killing of a policeman and a security guard in 2015 and the other related to a 2016 prison escape, state news agency MENA and witnesses said.

In the Nile Delta town of El-Zagazig, the local criminal court sentenced 18 people to death in the killings of the policeman and guard, MENA said.

The agency said that the two men had arrived with gunshot wounds at a local hospital and investigators had established that the 18 were behind their deaths.

It said the 18 men, also convicted of incitement to violence against state institutions, were members of the Muslim Brotherhood which was banned in Egypt after the 2013 overthrow of former Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

In the city of Ismailiyah, the local criminal court sentenced 13 people, witnesses and local newspapers said, including some whom court officials had described as takfiris, a reference to Islamist militants. They said they had escaped from a prison in October 2016.

Six of the convicted men were in custody while seven were tried in absentia, the state-run al-Ahram newspaper reported on its website.

Egypt has cracked down on suspected Islamists since Mursi was toppled by former general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Sisi, who took over as president a year later, has since won a second term in office.

Hundreds of Islamists, including Muslim Brotherhood supporters and members, have received death sentences since 2013, and Egypt has carried out dozens of executions, according to security sources and rights groups.

Thursday’s rulings are subject to appeals before the sentences are carried out.

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