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Egyptian court hands down first death sentence in revolution killings

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • An Egyptian court finds a police officer fired randomly at protesters during revolution, killing 20
  • Authorities have been unable to locate the officer, who was convicted in absentia
  • The sentence is the most severe penalty handed down since Hosni Mubarak was ousted
  • Egypt's former interior minister faces a trial for ordering the killings of protesters

(CNN) -- A criminal court in Cairo sentenced to death a police officer for killing protesters, the first such penalty to be handed down following the revolution that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian state TV reported Monday.

The court sentenced Mohammed Mahmud Abdul Mun'em in absentia for killing 20 protesters and wounding 15 on January 28 -- one of the pivotal days of the revolution that saw hundreds of thousands take to the streets and Egyptian troops replace police who had been battling demonstrators.

The court found Mun'em had randomly fired at demonstrators, Nile TV said. Authorities have been unable to locate Mun'em, and it was not immediately known what evidence the court used to convict the police officer.

The sentence is the most severe penalty to date levied against those accused of killing and torturing protesters during demonstrations that began in January over widespread complaints of corruption, low wages and rigged elections. The revolution ended February 11, when Mubarak stepped down.

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Mubarak and his two sons have since been detained by Egyptian authorities in connection with ordering the deaths of protesters during the revolution.

Former Interior Minister Habib El Adly was handed a 12-year prison sentence for corruption and faces a separate trial for his alleged role in ordering the killings of protesters.

Amnesty International has estimated at least 840 people were killed and more than 6,000 wounded. The non-profit human rights organization said it found "damning" evidence that Egyptian security forces used excessive force to disperse protesters.

Many died from gunshot wounds to the head and chest, Amnesty International said in a report released this month.

There were numerous cases of torture of protesters who were detained, according to the report. These cases included beatings with sticks or whips, electric shocks and threats of rape.

At least 189 prisoners died during the protests, the group said, calling for an investigation.

CNN's Yousuf Basil contributed to this report.