The Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest judicial authority, pronounced on Monday 27 February 2023 the final judgement against 16 men for killing the Copt Iskandar Touss, attempting to kill two other Copts: Wedad Abdel-Nour Tawadros and Samir Lamei Saqr Tawadros, and burning Coptic houses in the Minya village of Dalga in Deir Mawass some 270km south of Cairo in August 2013. The court sentenced one man, Muhammad Baqi Abdel-Sattar, to death; 12 to life in prison; four to five-years in prison; and acquitted one man, Gamal Kamel Yehia Abdel-Warith.
Minya Criminal Court had in 2015 sentenced
three of the defendants to death, ten to life in prison, and five to five years in prison. But the rulings were contested before the Court of Cassation.
The case goes back to August 2013 when the Muslim Brothers (MB) and their supporters unleashed a torrent of terrorism against Egyptians who had risen in a 30 million-strong peaceful revolution on 30 June 2013 demanding to overthrow the Islamist MB ruling regime that had come to power in the wake of the 2011 ‘Arab Spring’. The Egyptian army stepped in and, on 3 July 2013, the Islamists were overthrown and the head of the Supreme Institutional Court became Interim President. The MB retaliated by a campaign of violence against Egyptians, specifically against Copts. Following a break-up by the police of a five-week MB sit-in in Rabaa Square in east Cairo, the MB conducted a nationwide, synchronised attack against Copts. Seven Copts lost their lives, killed in horrifying scenes. The bodies of two, one of them the middle aged barber Iskandar Touss of Dalga, were beheaded and paraded all over town. Some 100 churches and Coptic establishments—including Church-owned community centres, schools, clinics, two Nile boats, and even an orphanage—were subjected to various degrees of destruction; 40 per cent of them were almost completely burnt, and the other 60 per cent have suffered various degrees of damage. An appalling 1000 Coptic-owned homes, shops, private businesses, trucks, private cars, and motorcycles were destroyed.
In case of Dalga, 45 men were charged with various crimes; 16 have been sentenced, whereas the others were on the run and were sentenced in absentia.
28 February 2023
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