Dozens sentenced over Cairo embassy attacks

Egyptian court convicts 76 people for attacking the Israeli and Saudi embassies during protests last year.

    Dozens sentenced over Cairo embassy attacks
    Protesters pull down a concrete wall built in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo in September, 2011 [Reuters]

    A court in Egypt has sentenced a man to five years in prison and another 75 people to one-year suspended sentences in connection with attacks on the Israeli and Saudi embassies in Cairo last year, a court official has said.

    The man sentenced to jail on Sunday, named Omar Afifi, had fled abroad and was tried in absentia.

    Protesters stormed the Israeli embassy in Cairo in September following the killing in August of five Egyptian security guards by Israeli soldiers pursuing fighters who had ambushed and killed eight Israelis along the Israeli-Egyptian border.

    Some of the protesters also attacked the nearby Saudi embassy with stones.

    The mother of one of the other defendants said her son, Sohier Hassan, was innocent.

    "I'm not happy with this verdict, because my son did not commit any crimes, he a mechanic, he is the main breadwinner for our house, he is not interested in politics. I wish that he cared about politics, but he does not," she said.

    They [the authorities] accused him because of the Israeli embassy, but I swear to god that my son did not commit a crime," she said.

    The defendants had been accused of "attacks on diplomatic missions", according to the public prosecutor.

    A member of the defence panel said the accused men had the right to appeal the sentence.

    Fighter's death investigated

    Meanwhile, in a separate development, Egyptian security officials told the Associated Press that they were investigating the death of a suspected fighter near the country's border with Israel on Sunday.

    Ibrahim Madhan was killed while riding a motorcycle in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, some 15km from the Israeli border. The security officials said scraps from a missile were found next to his body.

    Officials said they are considering several scenarios, including the possibility of an Israeli missile strike. That would raise questions about whether it was coordinated with Egyptian authorities.

    An Egyptian security and military team was at the site of the attack to collect evidence, the officials said.

    Mohammed Oqail, who lives in the area, said he heard the buzzing sound of a plane hovering over the area an hour before he learned of the explosion. A security official said another possible scenario was that the militant was killed by the explosion of a land mine, but the shallow depth of the crater did not suggest that.

    An Israeli security official said Israel was not involved.

    All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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