A court in Egypt sentenced 10 militants to death on Tuesday following their conviction of involvement in terror attacks against state property and policemen nearly a decade ago, judicial officials said.
The Supreme National Security Court ― a special tribunal that only hears terrorism-related cases — also sentenced 56 other accused in the same case to life in prison while 52 others were sentenced to 15 years. Another 34 defendants received 10-year prison sentences. The court acquitted 43.
The 10 death sentences were approved by the country’s Grand Mufti, a formality needed in Egypt in cases of capital punishment. The view of the Grand Mufti, the land's highest Islamic authority, is not binding.
"These defendants are messengers of rebellion and mutiny," said judge Mohammed Shireen Fahmy before he issued his verdict on Tuesday. "These sinners and the horrendous crimes they committed is proof of the weakness of their faith, that's if they indeed possess genuine faith and a correct understanding of Islam's teachings."
The case dates back to 2015 when authorities referred the accused to trial for their membership in an armed faction that sprang out of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, whose divisive president Mohammed Morsi was removed from power by the military in 2013 amid mass protests against his one-year rule.
During the case, the prosecution said that the accused had been carrying out plans hatched by jailed Muslim Brotherhood leaders to try to discredit the government through the assassination of policemen and destroying power pylons, transformers and other state property.
The court also heard that the accused were aided by criminal elements, members of extremist football fans' associations and a pro-Brotherhood group called the “Alliance to Support Legitimacy” — a reference to Mr Morsi, elected the year after a popular uprising in 2011 forced long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak to step down.
The Muslim Brotherhood faction blamed for the attacks was known as the “Helwan Brigades”, a reference to a southern Cairo suburb known to have once been one of the group's strongholds.