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DATE=4/18/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-248265 TITLE=EGYPT/MILITANTS (S/L) BYLINE=RICHARD ENGEL DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: IN EGYPT SUNDAY, A MILITARY COURT HANDED OUT SENTENCES TO 87 PEOPLE CONVICTED OF TERRORISM. TWENTY OTHERS WERE ACQUITTED. RICHARD ENGEL REPORTS FROM CAIRO THAT NINE MEN WERE SENTENCED TO DEATH FOLLOWING THE COUNTRY'S LARGEST TRIAL OF ISLAMIC MILITANTS. TEXT: AS THE MILITARY JUDGE READ OUT THE SENTENCES THE DEFENDANTS WAITED SILENTLY IN A METAL CAGE IN THE COURT ROOM. IN ADDITION TO THE NINE DEATH SENTENCES, THE COURT GAVE 11 DEFENDANTS LIFE TERMS. THE REMAINDER RECEIVED AN AVERAGE OF 15-YEARS IN PRISON WITH HARD LABOR. WHEN THE JUDGE FINISHED, THE DEFENDANTS CHEERED AND JUMPED TO THEIR FEET, SHOUTING ISLAMIC SLOGANS. THEY SAID THOSE SENTENCED TO BE HANGED WOULD BE CONSIDERED MARTYRS. SIXTY OF THE THE DEFENDANTS, INCLUDING ALL THOSE GIVEN THE DEATH PENALTY, WERE TRIED AND SENTENCED IN ABSENTIA. THE MAIN CHARGE AGAINST THE MILITANTS WAS THAT THEY BELONGED TO THE AL JIHAD TERRORIST GROUP THAT ASSASSINATED EGYPT'S PRESIDENT ANWAR SADAT IN 1981. THE GROUP'S AFGHANISTAN-BASED LEADERSHIP HAS ALSO BEEN LINKED TO THE BOMBINGS OF U-S EMBASSIES IN KENYA AND TANZANIA LAST AUGUST. HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION PROTESTED THROUGHOUT THE TRIAL THAT THE DEFENDANTS HAD BEEN TORTURED AND DENIED ACCESS TO THEIR LAWYERS. /// REST OPT FOR LONG /// IN EGYPT, MILITARY COURTS HAVE LONG BEEN USED TO TRY CIVILIANS IN THE GOVERNMENT'S WAR AGAINST TERRORISM. MORE THAN 12-HUNDRED PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED SINCE 1992 WHEN ISLAMIC MILITANTS BEGAN USING VIOLENT ATTACKS AS PART OF THEIR STRATEGY TO OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT AND IMPOSE A STRICT ISLAMIC STATE. OUTSIDE THE COURTROOM, FAMILY MEMBERS WAITED ANXIOUSLY TO HEAR THE VERDICTS. SOME OF THE WOMEN BEGAN TO SCREAM AND BEAT THEIR FACES WHEN THEY LEARNED THEY WOULD NEVER SEE THEIR HUSBANDS AND SONS AGAIN. (SIGNED) NEB/RHE/DW/RAE 18-Apr-99 11:55 AM EDT (1555 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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