Seventy-one people were sentenced to life imprisonment by an Egyptian court for their role in torching a Christian church in the Giza province village of Kafr Hakim on Aug 2013.
According to Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, the Virgin Mary Church was one of 42 churches and several businesses and homes that were made targets of violence.
Also targeted in the attacks were the St. George Church in the city of Sohag, south of Cairo on the Nile River, and the Prince Tadros Church in Fayoum, southwest of Cairo.
According to Egynews, two minors were given a 10-year sentence in prison and fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds. Fifty-two of the 73 defendants were tried in absentia, with the remaining already serving their sentences in prison.
Hany El-Sayed, a defense lawyer for some of the accused, said, “There is no proof against the defendants… even the church’s priest said he didn’t see any of the defendants after the incident,” according to Reuters.
The defendants can appeal the final verdict.
In February, 183 supporters of the former president Mohamed Morsi were given death sentences for killing 13 police officers in Kerdasa. The incident, which occurred on the same day as the church attack, elicited strong responses from human rights groups who said that the trial was unfair and that Egypt was disrespecting national and international law.
Morsi was found guilty last week of giving orders to capture and torture opposition protestors during clashes with the Brotherhood outside a presidential palace in Cairo in 2012. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
According to BBC, over the last two years several Muslim Brotherhood supporters and senior members have been sentenced to life or death in mass trials. United Nations called these sentences “unprecedented in human history.”
In another sentencing, 63 people were given prison terms ranging from one to seven years on Wednesday for their roles in causing violence inside Al Azhar University’s campus in Cairo on Dec 2013. Those accused were fined 2.16 million Egyptian Pounds.
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