Suspects go on trial over Sinai blasts

The trial of three Egyptian men suspected of involvement in October's deadly anti-Israeli bombings in Sinai has opened with the defendants pleading not guilty.

    Bomb attacks on three resorts killed 34 people last October

    Mohammed Gaiez al-Sabah and Mohammed Rubaa Addallah appeared on Saturday at the high state security court in Ismailiya, northeast of Cairo, but the third man, Mohammed Ahmed Salah Felifel, is still at large and being tried in absentia.
     
    Defence lawyer Ahmed Seif al-Islam said his clients alleged they had been tortured for three months by Egyptian security services and forced to make confessions.
     
    "There is no guarantee of a fair trial because this is an emergency court and the accused cannot lodge an appeal," he said.
      
    The lawyer said the court requested that a doctor examine the defendants to determine whether they had been tortured and adjourned the trial until 24 July. 

    Deadly blasts
      
    According to official figures, 34 people, including several Israeli tourists, were killed and more than 10 wounded in triple bomb attacks on the Hilton hotel in Taba and two neighbouring resorts on 7 October.
      
    The three suspects are charged with "premeditated murder, failure to surrender themselves, determination to assassinate Israeli tourists ... terrorism and resisting the authorities during arrests", according to judiciary sources. 

    Several Israeli tourists died in
    the blasts last year

    They belong to a small, isolated group loyal to the Palestinian and Egyptian bombers who perished outside the Hilton, the authorities say.
      
    The Interior Ministry has said 10 people were involved in the bombings, some of whom were arrested and others killed.
      
    But rights groups say several thousand beduins - women, children and elderly people - have been rounded up by the police in Sinai, prompting female relatives to protest against what they say are arbitrary detentions.

    Search abandoned
      
    Clashes between Egyptian security forces and suspects in the centre of the Sinai peninsula left a police officer and a gunman dead after a major police operation in the area in mid-June.
      
    A few days after the incident, Egyptian security forces said they were giving up the hunt for a group of heavily armed men after they disappeared into the rugged mountains of the central Sinai desert.
      
    Despite warnings by their government and fresh attacks on tourists in Cairo in April, Israeli holidaymakers continue to cross the border into Egypt's Red Sea peninsula.
      
    Nearly 30,000 were reported to have travelled there during the week-long Jewish Passover holiday in May.
      
    The Israeli authorities issued another warning early last month not to travel to the Sinai during the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which was also ignored.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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