By Mustafa Eid
CAIRO (AA) - An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced 21 people to death after convicting them earlier of belonging to a “terrorist cell” linked to the Daesh terrorist group, according to a judicial source.
The unnamed source, who was quoted in local media, said the Cairo Criminal Court had sentenced 21 people to death -- 16 of whom had been tried in absentia -- after convicting them earlier of joining Daesh in Egypt’s northern Damietta province.
The court also sentenced four other people to 25 years each behind bars in the same case, while three others were slapped with 15-year jail terms.
Thursday's sentences can still be appealed before the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest appellate court.
Earlier this month, the European Parliament condemned Egypt’s frequent use of the death penalty, calling on the Egyptian authorities to "halt all imminent executions".
It went on to voice its "serious concern" over mass trials being conducted in Egypt and the "large number” of death sentences they were producing.
Egypt has been roiled by turmoil since the military ousted and imprisoned Mohamed Morsi, the country's first freely elected president, in a 2013 military coup.
In the almost five years since, hundreds of people have been sentenced to death on charges of engaging in “acts of violence” under the post-coup regime of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.