Egypt’s Cairo Criminal Court convicted 26 people on Wednesday charged with forming a terrorist group with the intent to attack the Suez Canal [official website]. The group was charged with planning attacks on ships in the Suez Canal as well as security buildings, foreign tourists, Christians and police. Most of the defendants received [AP report] death sentences and tried in absentia, but it is likely they will receive a retrial when arrested. One of the present defendants was younger than 18, and thus did not receive a death sentence. In 2012 an Egyptian court sentenced [JURIST report] 14 militants to death on similar charges of attacks on police and civilians in the Sinai Peninsula. Eight of the fourteen are still in prison and the rest were tired in absentia.
Egypt has dealt with political unrest since the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder] began in 2011. On Tuesday Egypt’s Prosecutor General referred [JURIST report] 504 members of the Muslim Brotherhood for a mass trial. Earlier this month Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Morsi [BBC backgrounder] appeared in court in his trial [JURIST reports] for espionage and conspiring to commit acts of terrorism. Morsi’s trial signifies Egypt’s political transition from the authority of the Muslim Brotherhood into a new regime. Morsi appeared before the court earlier this month, but the trial was adjourned [JURIST report] to give a committee of media members time to inspect video evidence the court declassified for the trial. In recent months, hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been convicted on criminal charges, with 113 supporters sentenced in January, and 139 sentenced [JURIST reports] in December.