Hizbullah members behind bars 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
An Egyptian court on Wednesday convicted 26 men of spying for Hizbullah and plotting attacks in Egypt, and gave them prison sentences ranging from six months to life.
Three of the defendants, including the group's Lebanese leader, Mohammad Qiblan, were convicted in abstenia and received life sentences. The rest of the group — including Egyptians, a Sudanese, West Bank Palestinians and Lebanese nationals — was handed sentences ranging from six months and 15 years.
The verdict cannot be appealed.
The group was charged with planning attacks on tourists and shipping in the Suez Canal, and sending operatives and explosives to Gaza to aid terrorists there.
The courtroom erupted with cries of shock at the sentences and chanting when Judge Adel Abdelsalam Gomaa pronounced the verdicts at Cairo's emergency court.
The trial, which started in August 2009, is the first time Egypt has
prosecuted Hizbullah members. In April of that year, Egyptian
security officials said they had uncovered a Hizbullah cell plotting to
destabilize the country.
Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has
admitted to sending an agent to supervise weapons shipments to Hamas in
Gaza, but he has denied seeking to undermine Egypt's security.
least three of the suspects were also charged with digging tunnels
under Egypt's border with Gaza with the intention of smuggling people
and goods. Others are charged with providing safehouses for terrorists
smuggled across the border.
It also marks the first time Egypt
has convicted people involved in the smuggling trade with Gaza.