Egypt court sentences Libyan to death over 2017 attack



A picture taken October 21st, 2017 shows Egyptian forces' vehicles and armoured personnel carriers parked on the desert road that leads to the Bahariya oasis in Egypt's Western desert, near the site of an attack in which 16 policemen were killed. [Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP] 

An Egyptian military court sentenced a Libyan man to death and 32 other defendants to life in prison over a deadly 2017 attack in the Western Desert, the army spokesman said Sunday (November 17th).

Armed extremists attacked a contingent of policemen on October 20th, 2017, as they were on their way to raid a terrorist hideout in the Bahariya oasis, in the desert south-west of Giza, officials told Al-Mashareq at the time.

Sixteen policemen were killed and 13 others were wounded in the shootout, which occurred in the Kilo-135 area of al-Wahat Highway, while 15 of the assailants were killed.

The military criminal court ordered the "execution by hanging" of Libyan national Abdelreheem Mohamed al-Mesmary, the main defendant in the case, army spokesman Tamer al-Rifaie said in a Sunday statement.

Al-Mesmary received training on using heavy weapons and making explosives in Libya before infiltrating into Egypt through the Western Desert to carry out terrorist attacks in the country, the court said. He was arrested shortly after the attack.

The court also ordered "life and rigorous imprisonment of 32 defendants and the acquittal of 20 others", the statement added.

Of the 32 sentenced to life terms, 10 were sentenced in absentia, the army said.

It was not immediately clear how many of the defendants were Egyptians or Libyans.

The defendants were accused of forming and joining a "terrorist" group in Libya, targeting security personnel, murder and carrying out hostile operations against vital facilities, according to the army.

Egypt's vast Western Desert near the border with Libya has seen fierce clashes in recent years between the Egyptian army and various armed extremist groups.

Egyptian forces have been attacked on main roads traversing the desert, which covers a total area of about 681,000 square kilometres.

Suicide attacks targeting civilians also have been planned and executed by extremist cells operating in the desert, which extends 1,000 kilometres north to south and 600 kilometres east to west, bordering Libya.

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May God save Egypt and its people!