Militants get death sentence




By Mark Huband in Cairo

Financial Times, 19 April 1999

Nine Islamic militants were yesterday sentenced to death by an Egyptian military court at the end of a trial of 107 militants, 60 of whom were tried in absentia, including those to be executed.

All but one of the defendants were accused of belonging to the Jihad Islamic organisation, whose followers assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981. The verdicts, in what is the biggest trial of Islamic militants since the assassination, brought the harshest range of sentences yet applied by the military court. Egypt has hanged 68 of the 90 people found guilty of crimes related to militant violence since 1992.

Among those tried in absentia was Yasser el-Sirri, a London-based Islamic militant already facing a death sentence in Egypt. Also found guilty was Ayman al-Zoheiri, the leader of Jihad. He is thought to be in Afghanistan, where he is a close associate of Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi Arabian Islamic militant.

Defence lawyers and the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights criticised the verdicts, claiming there was insufficient evidence against the accused, many of whom had been held without trial for several years.


© Financial Times