Egypt has executed six members of an Isis-aligned militant group for carrying out a deadly attack on soldiers near Cairo last year, their lawyer has said.
The group, Sinai Province, has killed hundreds of police officers and soldiers since the army toppled the Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 after mass protests against his presidency. Formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the group has pledged allegience to Islamic State.
A military court convicted nine members of Sinai Province on charges including the killing of two army officers during a shootout in Arab Sharkas village north of Cairo. Seven of the defendants were sentenced to death, one in absentia, while the other two were jailed for life.
“The ruling was more of a political decision than a court decision,” said defence lawyer Ahmed Hammam.
Egypt rejects allegations by critics that its judiciary is politicised.
In April, New York-based Human Rights Watch said three of the men who were facing execution could not have taken part in any attacks because they had been held by the authorities at the time after being arrested three months earlier, citing comments from their relatives and lawyer.
After toppling Morsi – the country’s first freely elected president – the then army chief, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, launched the toughest crackdown on Islamists in Egypt’s history.
Sisi has identified the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi is a member, as a threat to national security, an allegation it denies.
On Saturday, an Egyptian court sentenced Morsi and 106 supporters of the Brotherhood to death in connection with a mass jail break in 2011.
While the Brotherhood has largely been neutralised with thousands of arrests, Sinai Province remains resilient despite continuing military operations.