An Egyptian military court has asked the country’s highest-ranking Muslim legal authority whether 36 people should receive the death penalty for their role in three deadly church bombings.
Reuters reports that the court’s referral was announced Tuesday, 10 April, by state television.
The accused are suspected of taking part in bombings that targeted three Coptic churches, in Cairo in December 2016, and Alexandria and Tanta in April 2017. The three attacks killed about 70 people and injured more than 100.
The self-proclaimed Islamic State group claimed responsibility for all three attacks.
Two of the defendants were convicted of taking part in the bombing of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria. Eighteen people died after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside the cathedral gates, killing eight Copts, six Muslim passers-by and four Muslim police officers.
Reuters noted a lawyer involved in the case said 11 of the 36 are being tried in absentia, and that the military court is expected to issue a verdict May 15. It said the court is required to consult the Grand Mufti on the death penalty, though his opinion is non-binding.
In addition to the 36, another 12 men have been tried, six in absentia, but not handed the death sentence.