Eight people have been sentenced to death by an Egyptian military court on Monday over an alleged plot to assassinate President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and former Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Nayef, according to local media.
According to the Egyptian daily Akhbar al-Youm, 292 defendants are facing trial in the same case, 151 of whom are currently in jail. The rest have been tried in absentia, including the eight who were handed death sentences.
According to the Middle East Eye news portal, the charges against the 292 defendants include the formation of terrorist cells and involvement in a number of terrorist operations, including two assassination attempts on Sisi in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Of the eight defendants, six are police officers who, according to a court statement, plotted to assassinate Sisi in Egypt by targeting his motorcades.
The two other defendants are Egyptian hotel workers in Saudi Arabia who allegedly plotted in 2014 to assassinate Sisi and bin Nayef during Sisi’s visit to Mecca that year – marking his first visit to his Saudi allies after he became president that same year.
A final court hearing is scheduled for 6 March, pending the ratification of the mufti, the highest religious authority, whose non-binding opinion is required before a final death penalty verdict is confirmed by court.
Defendants have a right to appeal the sentence before a military court.
Egyptian civil and military courts have sentenced more than 1,400 people to death since Sisi’s ouster of his predecessor Mohammed Morsi in a military coup in 2013.
The sentences, according to Amnesty International, followed “grossly unfair trials” that relied on confessions extracted under torture. Most of those sentenced to death have been either members of the Muslim Brotherhood – from which Morsi hailed – or critics of the Sisi government.