Retrial ordered in Muslim-Christian clashes in Egypt

Posted: Friday, August 03, 2001

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Egypt's supreme court overruled a lower court's conviction of only four of 96 defendants accused in deadly Muslim-Christian clashes last year.

The Cassation Court on July 30 granted prosecutors' request for a retrial, court officials said on condition of anonymity.

Twenty-one people, nearly all Christians, died in violence that erupted a few days after an argument between a Muslim customer and a Coptic Christian shopkeeper in el-Kusheh, 275 miles south of Cairo.

Feb. 5 acquittals of most of the accused and light sentences for those convicted had angered many in Egypt's Christian minority. Coptic Bishop Wissa, whose diocese includes el-Kusheh, said the ruling would help quell Christian anger.

Christians, mostly Copts, comprise 10 percent of the country's 64 million people, who are overwhelmingly Muslim.

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