Jamaa Islamiya leader sentenced to death

The Supreme State Security Court on Wednesday sentenced a leader of the banned Jamaa Islamiya group to death some three years after his arrest. The trial of Abdel Hamid Othman, otherwise known as “Abu Aqrab,” began last February.

Othman had been charged with planning and participating in terrorist operations targeting senior security personnel in the Upper Egyptian city of Assiut in the 1990s. Pursuant to Egyptian law, Othman’s sentence has been referred to Grand Mufti of the Republic Ali Gomaa for endorsement.

According to judicial sources, the court will announce its final verdict on 20 October after receiving the mufti’s opinion–which is of a merely consultative nature–on the matter.

Othman was sentenced to death twice before in absentia for attacking tourists, policemen and government institutions, including a 1993 assassination attempt on Assiut’s assistant security director.

Othman’s lawyers, for their part, contend their client could not have carried out the crimes attributed to him due to his extremely poor eyesight.

The case represents the first time for a Jamaa Islamiya leader to be tried in court since the group’s formal renunciation of violence in 2003.   

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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