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Egypt convicts 26 over Suez Canal terror plot

CAIRO — An Egyptian court convicted 26 people Wednesday of forming a terrorist group to launch an attack on the country’s vital Suez Canal waterway, with almost all receiving death sentences in absentia.

The verdict by the Cairo Criminal Court came after judges held only one session in the case. One of the defendants, younger than 18, did not receive a death sentence, a statement announcing the verdict said. It did not elaborate.

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Courts in Egypt routinely convict defendants and give the maximum sentence to those tried in absentia. However, once caught, the defendants receive an automatic retrial.

The prosecutors charged the group with planning attacks on ships passing through the canal, as well as targeting security buildings, foreign tourists, Christians, and police.

Egypt has been hit by a wave of bombings and suicide attacks since the July military ouster of Egypt’s first elected president, Islamist Mohammed Morsi. His removal followed days of demonstrations by millions of Egyptians demanding he step down, accusing him of abusing power.

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