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Egypt court sentences 8 to death over prophet film

A screenshot from the trailer of the film 'Innocence of Muslims' is shown in this file photo. (YouTube.com)

November 28, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
An Egyptian court on Wednesday convicted in absentia eight people on charges linked to the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims," sentencing them to death.

The movie's director, Mark Basseley Youssef of Cerritos, was among those convicted. The move was seen as largely symbolic since the defendants are all outside Egypt and are unlikely to ever face the sentence.

The charges were brought in September during a wave of public outrage in Egypt over the low-budget film, which portrayed the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and buffoon.

The defendants were found guilty of harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information - charges that carry the death sentence.

Also convicted were six other Coptic Christians and Florida Pastor Terry Jones. He said he was not intimidated, adding that he had plans to release a new film about the Prophet Muhammad's life.

All the defendants, except Jones, hold Egyptian nationality.

Maximum sentences are common in cases tried in absentia in Egypt. Capital punishment decisions are reviewed by the country's chief religious authority, who must approve or reject the sentence. A final verdict is scheduled on Jan. 29.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.