EGYPT. TWO GANG LEADERS SENTENCED TO DEATH
September 25, 2005: a Cairo court sentenced two gang leaders to death and 58 defendants to prison terms varying between three years to life for involvement in kidnappings and violence in 2004 in Nakhilah, about 320km south of Cairo. The charges against the 80 defendants included vendetta killings, drug trafficking and illegal weapons possession.
Judge Rabia el-Shemi sentenced Ezzat Hanafi and his youngest brother, Hamdan, to death and fines of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (more than $17,000) each for "killing the secured citizens and planting the poison on the land of God and committing grave crimes", according to a court official.
The court sentenced three defendants to life imprisonment and 100,000 pound fines. The others received sentences of between three to 15 years.
The court acquitted 20 other defendants, including two in absentia.
The charges dated to February 2004, when the Hanafi brothers and others took over 280 acres of land in Nakhilah.
When approached by police, the Hanafi gang kidnapped 107 villagers and held them as hostages for seven days. Police then raided the village, freed the hostages and arrested the gang members.
Critics accused the government of turning a blind eye to the Hanafi gang's history of drug trafficking while using the gang to hunt down Islamic militants during the 1990s. (Sources: SA, 26/09/2005)