Top News: Egyptian Court Issues Preliminary Death Sentence to Twelve ISIS Supporters

The Zagazig Criminal Court sentenced twelve alleged Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) sympathizers to death on Thursday after convicting them of plotting attacks against police and troops in Egypt. The court also handed three-year sentences to two other defendants in the same case for promoting extremist ideologies. A key defendant in the case, Khaled Maghawry, is accused of “recruiting youths and sending them to Syria and Iraq to receive training [on jihadism] and how to use weapons.” The defendants were also charged with forming a “terrorist” group and an armed “gang,” possessing “extremist” publications, calling for toppling state institutions and stalling the constitution, committing violent acts, receiving foreign funding for “terrorism,” and harming “national unity and social peace.” Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia while the rest are in custody. The court convicted them of “carrying out attacks on police and the military in Egypt” and joining the Islamic State group, which has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq and is expanding its presence in Libya. [Ahram online, DNE, AFP, Aswat Masriya, 8/27/2015]


Beni Suef Criminal Court, Suez Military Court sentences over eighty alleged Brotherhood supporters
The Beni Suef Criminal Court sentenced forty-one alleged supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to one year in jail over staging unlicensed protests on Thursday. Out of forty-one defendants, twenty-nine are still at large, among them three local Muslim Brotherhood leaders. They were found guilty of assaulting police with fire bottles during a march in Nasr City. The Suez Military Court, meanwhile, sentenced forty defendants, among them Brotherhood member Saad Khalifa, to prison terms ranging from six to fifteen years for vandalism charges on Thursday. Eleven defendants were sentenced to six years in prison. The remaining twenty-nine defendants were sentenced in absentia to fifteen years in prison. All defendants were charged with vandalism, possession of explosives and inciting the torching of vehicles belonging to the Suez Oil Processing Company, a public sector firm. The events date back to an incident in February. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 8/27/2015]


Egypt’s power choices appease public, squeeze industry
Government energy policies focused on appeasing the public are dealing a blow to vital industries in Egypt. Companies say production will continue to suffer unless the government starts diverting some of the gas supplied to electricity plants powering homes to factories. Research group Capital Economics estimates manufacturing output contracted by almost 30 percent year-on-year in June due to foreign exchange restrictions and gas shortages. Ezz Steel, Egypt’s largest steelmaker, last week reported a sevenfold year-on-year increase in its net loss for the first quarter of the year. Losses were “principally due to constant disruption of utilities and lack of natural gas,” the company said. The head of Egypt’s cement producers’ association, Madhat Stefanos, said the sector had lost about 40 percent of its capacity due to energy shortages last year. [Reuters, 8/27/2015]

Egypt’s market loses EGP6.4 billion in week, EGX30 index down 1.3 percent
Egypt’s stock market witnessed loses of EGP6.4 billion (US$818 million) this week, as all indexes dropped, Egyptian Exchange data showed. The main EGX30 index, small and mid-cap EGX70 index, and the broader EGX100 index declined 1.31 percent, 5.6 percent, and 4.39 percent, respectively. EGX market capital lost EGP6.38 billion, to hit EGP437.69 billion, compared to EGP444.07 billion last week. On Sunday alone, EGX 30 fell sharply by 5.42 percent and on Monday, a further slide brought EGX 30 to its lowest point since December 2013. Egypt’s stock market bounced back on Thursday, the rise echoing the improved performance of the U.S. stock market on Wednesday. The stock exchange’s benchmark index EGX30 rose by 2.99 percent on Thursday, closing at 7978.83 points. [Egypt Independent, 8/28/2015]

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NCHR slams Brotherhood prisoners’ complaints on detention conditions
A delegation from the state-affiliated National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) visited Al-Aqrab Prison Wednesday, in response to several complaints by the families of prisoners regarding unacceptable conditions in detention. According to NCHR member Hafez Abu Seada, it took authorities nearly one month to eventually respond to their demand and allow them to visit the prison. In a Thursday report, the NCHR said it examined the reported cases of Muslim Brotherhood prisoners, including Essam Sultan, Khairat al-Shater, and Magdy Korkor. Complaints include the banning basic goods from entrance, preventing prisoners from leaving cells during the day,  the prevention of medicine entering the prison, and failure to provide medical care. The NCHR’s delegation however contradicted the claims. A prisoner, for instance, complained that visits have been frequently canceled by prison authorities for up to one year, and when allowed, did  not exceed ten minutes, from behind a glass wall. The NCHR’s report, however, provided a copy of a sign-in sheet showing regular visits to the imprisoned claimant by his wife, children, and lawyer. In a press conference, NCHR’s Sallah Sallam said,  “We assure you that Shater is in good health and that he has received proper assistance inside and outside jail, and his treatment has been subsidized by prison authorities for up to EGP 12,000.” The report pointed that the heat wave was challenging for the safety of prisoners, and that the prison authority said it was working on solving it. [DNE, 8/27/2015]

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Police officer killed in Sohag
A police officer was killed in a drive-by shooting on his way to work Friday morning, according to a representative from the interior ministry’s press office The shooting took place in the city of Sohag, in Upper Egypt. No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. The representative added that information is currently being gathered for more details about the incident. [DNE, 8/28/2015]


Egyptian, Libyan officials meet to discuss reopening of border
The Governor of Egypt’s Marsa Matrouh governorate met with Libya’s Interior Minister on Wednesday to discuss the final proceedings for reopening the border between the two countries. The border was closed following the disappearance of Libyan security forces on August 15. The reason for their disappearance is still unknown. Marsa Matrouh’s governor, Alaa Abou Zeid, met with Libya’s Interior Minister, Mustafa al-Dabbash, as well as other Libyan authorities responsible for the Musaid border crossing, to discuss the concerns of both sides regarding reopening the crossing. The discussion also included assurances from both sides to facilitate safe passage across the borders for citizens from the two countries. [Ahram Online, 8/27/2015]

Gaza protesters ask Egypt to bring back four Palestinians missing in Sinai
Protests in the Gaza Strip on Thursday called on Egypt to find the four Palestinians who allegedly went missing in Sinai on August 19. Eyewitnesses claimed that the four men, all aged in their twenties, were on a bus going from the Rafah border crossing to Cairo when masked assailants kidnapped them at gunpoint. Family members allege they were on their way to the Cairo International Airport to seek medical treatment abroad. Activists, including dozens of family members related to the missing men, gathered near the Rafah border crossing into Egypt on Thursday afternoon, holding up signs reading, “Bring back the abducted,” the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported. Another protest was staged earlier in the morning in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Gaza City, where the demonstrators directed their demands to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Ma’an said. Hamas — the political party that governs Gaza — is also exhorting the authorities to find and release the young men, who are reportedly members of Hamas and its militant affiliate, the Qassam Brigades. [Mada Masr, 8/27/2015]

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