Twenty-three people have been sentenced to death, with 14 others sentenced to life in prison by a Libyan Court for their participation in an Islamic State (ISIS) militant campaign that included beheading a group of Egyptian Christians and taking control of Sirte in 2015.
According to a statement from the Libyan Attorney General’s office, five people were found not guilty, three others passed away before their cases went to trial, and one other person received a sentence of 12 years in jail, six to 10 years, one to five years, and six to three years.
Islamic State’s grew in Libya after capitalizing on the mayhem and fighting that followed a 2011 NATO-backed revolt. ISIS attacked the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli in 2015, killing nine people. Subsequently, it kidnapped and beheaded other Egyptian Christians, whose murders were depicted in gory propaganda videos.
ISIS took control of eastern Libya’s Benghazi, Derna, and Ajdabiya before seizing the key coastal city of Sirte and keeping it until late 2016 as it imposed a strict code of public morals supported by harsh penalties.
ISIS was eventually expelled from Sirte in December 2016 by forces fighting for the former United Nations-backed Government of National Accord. Forces of east-based commander Khalifa Haftar reclaimed Derna two years later.
Hundreds of alleged former ISIL fighters remain jailed in Libyan prisons, many of whom are still awaiting trial. Mustafa Salem Trabulsi, the leader of an organization for the families of those killed or abducted by the gang, expressed his disappointment in the verdict but said he accepted it as he had no choice.
"My son is missing and my relative, my brother-in-law, was murdered in Sirte Square," he said.
The court sentenced three minors to 10 years in prison each, said lawyer Lotfi Mohaychem.
“As lawyers for the victims’ families, we see the verdict of the court as very satisfying and very just,” Mohaychem said.
“The court sentenced those whose guilt was demonstrated and acquitted those against whom there was insufficient evidence.”
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