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Egypt sentences 31 people to death over police killing and prison escape

18 men convicted over deaths of police officer and security guard in 2016 were members of outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, state media reported
Hundreds of people have been sentenced to death since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power in 2013 (AFP)

Egyptian courts on Thursday sentenced 31 people to death in two separate cases, one involving the killing of a policeman and a security guard in 2015 and the other related to a 2016 prison escape, according to state news agency MENA and local media reports.

In the Nile Delta town of El-Zagazig, the local criminal court sentenced 18 people to death over the murders of the policeman and guard, MENA said.

It said the 18 men, who were also convicted of incitement to violence against state institutions, were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned in Egypt after the 2013 overthrow of former president Mohamed Morsi.

The agency said the two policeman and the security guard had arrived with gunshot wounds at a local hospital and investigators had established that the 18 were behind their deaths.

In the city of Ismailiyah, the local criminal court sentenced 13 men to death over an escape from a prison in October 2016, according to local media accounts.

Six of the convicted men, who were accused by court officials of being hardline Islamists, were in custody while seven were tried in absentia, the state-run al-Ahram newspaper reported on its website.

Hundreds of people, many of them accused of being supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, have been sentenced to death since Morsi was overthrown by current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Dozens of them have been executed, according to security sources and rights groups.

Amnesty International reported earlier this year that Egypt executed 35 people last year and sentenced 402 people to death, the latter being the highest number across North Africa and the Middle East.