Egypt executes six alleged Sinai militants

Published May 17th, 2015 - 10:30 GMT

Egypt’s prison authorities carried out six death sentences early Sunday in the case known as "Arab Sharkas," where the convicted were tried over connections with the Sinai-based Islamist militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis.

A military court had sentenced seven Egyptian men to death, including one in absentia, and two to life in prison on charges of terrorism in October 2014.

The men were charged with planning terrorist operations, shooting at security forces, attacking military facilities and naval ships and being members of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis.

The case became known as Arab Sharkas as it was named after a village in the governorate of Qaliubiya, north of Cairo, where security forces carried out a raid in March 2014 against a terrorist cell. The operation claimed the lives of two military officers.

Defendants had filed an appeal that was rejected in March 2015.

The rights group “Against the Death Penalty” had sent a letter to the National Council for Human Rights on 9 April calling on it to take action to stop the executions.

It said the death penalty is an “an irreversible punishment” and “requires a very sound and strict system of justice where investigations [are] … accurate, transparent and professional, and where the defendant should enjoy all rights securing a fair trial.”

It said a military trial does not fulfill this criteria “at a time where the minimum required standards for justice are lacking.”

Egypt's 2014 constitution gives military tribunals jurisdiction over crimes committed against army facilities and personnel, an authority that caused controversy as opponents of the article insist civilians should not be subject to military trials.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for many of the attacks against army and police forces in Egypt following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

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