Egypt policemen sentenced for death by torture

An Egyptian court sentenced on Thursday a policeman to 15 years in prison for torturing an Islamist to death and handed life sentences in absentia to four other policemen, a judicial source said.

Mohammed Abdel Rahman Al Shimi, a member of the now dissolved State Security apparatus, took part in torturing Sayed Bilal to death after his arrest over a church bombing in the coastal city of Alexandria, the court found.

The Alexandria court also handed life sentences to four fugitive members of the once feared apparatus, disbanded after a popular uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

More than 20 churchgoers were killed weeks before the uprising when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in front of the church after a New Year's Eve mass.

Police rounded up Islamists belonging to the hardline Salafi movement after they held protests against the Coptic Church, which they accused of detaining a woman who converted to Islam.

Mubarak's security services were widely accused of torture.

The case of another man, Khaled Said, who also died under torture, helped fuel the revolt against Mubarak, in which protesters torched police stations across the country.