Egypt sentences five to death for policeman's murder

AFP
Egyptian walk past a huge poster of Egypt's former Defence Minister and armed forces chief General Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi outside the High Court in downtown Cairo, on March 27, 2014
Egyptian walk past a huge poster of Egypt's former Defence Minister and armed forces chief General Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi outside the High Court in downtown Cairo, on March 27, 2014 (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Cairo (AFP) - An Egyptian court sentenced five men to death on Saturday for the murder in January of a policeman on duty at a church just outside Cairo.

The men were convicted of shooting to death the officer and were also accused of forming a terrorist cell and planning attacks against the police and the army.

Militant groups have been targeting security forces since a bloody police crackdown on supporters of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following his overthrow in a military coup in July 2013.

Last summer, Islamists also attacked churches as well as Christian homes and businesses, accusing Coptic Christians of supporting the removal of Morsi by now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Saturday's death sentences, set by a criminal court in Giza province, will be either confirmed or overturned in a final verdict due on September 20.

That day, the court will also hand down sentences to two other defendants.

It is not clear if a court has yet ruled on the terrorism charges facing the five.

At least 1,400 Morsi supporters have been killed in the Egyptian regime's crackdown and around 15,000 others imprisoned. Hundreds more have been sentenced to death in mass trials.