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Wednesday, April 28, 2010 
17:33 Mecca time, 14:33 GMT

Egypt sentences Hezbollah suspects 


A court in Cairo has convicted 26 men of plotting attacks in Egypt and of 
having ties with the Lebanon-based group Hezbollah.

The emergency state security court on Thursday also sentenced the suspects - of 
Palestinian, Lebanese, Egyptian and Sudanese origin - to prison terms ranging 
from six months to life terms.

The defendants were charged with spying on ships in the Suez Canal, planning 
attacks on holiday resorts popular with Israelis in Sinai, and smuggling 
weapons into the Gaza Strip.

"Hezbollah has been very quite and it seems like they don't want to exacerbate 
things," Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland, reporting from Beirut, said.

"In the past, Hezbollah's leader, Hasan Nasrallah, didn't deny that there had 
been a cell operating in Egypt but did say that this was not planning any 
attacks to targets in Egypt but were there to help the Palestinian resistance 
in Gaza."

Of those convicted and sentenced on Wednesday, two were Lebanese, five 
Palestinians and 19 Egyptians.

Judge Adel Abdel Salam Gomaa said investigations proved the group intended "to 
strike Egypt's economy, destroy the bonds between its people and create chaos 
and instability throughout the country".

Three defendants who were on the run and tried in absentia, including Mohammed 
Qublan, the suspected Lebanese leader of the group, were given life sentences.

Sami Shehab, the second defendant, and Mahmoud Nimr, a Palestinian, got 15-year 
prison sentences.

Another 10 were given 10 years in jail, with the rest of those present 
receiving between three and seven years, and one defendant getting six months.

No higher appeal

No higher appeal is possible for the case, with the only possibility or 
recourse being a presidential pardon.

Al Jazeera's Amr El-Kahky, reporting from outside the courthouse, said the 
verdicts were tougher than expected, although there were no death sentences 
handed down.

"The defendents were not happy with these verdicts, of course. And they 
described the court as the state security court of Israel, not of Egypt," he 

Family members had gathered outside the court before the announcement of the 
trial's verdict, shouting "God save you" to the defendants.

The courthouse itself was surrounded by hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and 

Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, had admitted earlier that one of the men 
was an agent for the movement but denied any plan to harm Egypt.

He said that the Hezbollah member had been assigned to smuggling weapons to 
Palestinian fighters in Gaza.

In addition to weapons smuggling and planning attacks, they were also charged 
with sending operatives into the occupied Gaza Strip to help Palestinian 
fighters there.

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