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Egypt resumes trial of ABM defendants, without executed six

An Egyptian civilian court on Tuesday resumed the trial of 213 alleged members of the Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis (ABM) militant group, in the absence of six of the defendants, executed two days earlier in a different case.

During Tuesday’s session, the judge received a note from the prison authorities, officially informing the court of the execution.

Tuesday’s case is related to 54 separate crimes, including the killing of policemen and the attempted assassination of former interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim.

A hundred and two of the defendants are detained, while the rest are being tried in absentia. The trial has been adjourned to June 11.

Prosecutors had charged the defendants with forming, leading and joining a terrorist group, assaulting citizens’ rights and freedoms, harming national peace and unity, destroying state property, conducting espionage for Hamas, the de-facto leaders of Gaza, murder, attempted murder and possession of illegal weapons.

On Sunday, prison authorities carried out six death sentences in a case known as “Arab Sharkas” against six alleged members of ABM, after they were convicted in a military court in October 2014.

The men were charged with planning terrorist operations, shooting at security forces, attacking military facilities and naval ships, and being members of ABM.

The case became known as “Arab Sharkas”, as it was named after a village in the governorate of Qalioubiya, north of Cairo, where security forces carried out a raid in March 2014 against a terrorist cell. The operation claimed the lives of two military officers.

The defendants had filed an appeal, but it was rejected in March 2015.

ABM has claimed responsibility for many of the attacks against army and police forces in Egypt following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

In 2014, it swore allegiance to the regional Islamic State (IS) militant group, which has a presence in Syria, Iraq and Libya, thus changing its name to “Sinai Province”.