Sep 24, 2017 Last Updated 10:33 AM, Sep 22, 2017
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Forty-three people have been sentenced to life in prison after a mass trial in Egypt that also saw years-long sentences given to hundreds of others.

Almost 500 people were charged with crimes over the violence which erupted following the removal of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

Three hundred of those on trial received sentences ranging from five to 15 years.

Fifty-four people were acquitted, including Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa.

Mr Halawa was aged 17 when he was arrested and says he was tortured during his more than fou-year imprisonment. 

A US citizen, Ahmed Etiwy, was among those sentenced to five years in prison.

The mass trial was held in a courtroom at Wadi al-Natroun prison north of Cairo, human rights group Amnesty International says.

The defendants faced a range of charges, including killing 44 people, breaking into a mosque, and possessing firearms, following rallies in support of the ousted Mr Morsi in August 2013.

Hundreds of protesters and dozens of security personnel died when security forces broke up pro-Morsi gatherings.

In the months that followed, there was a crackdown on the former president's supporters, and on the Muslim Brotherhood group to which he belongs, which Egypt later declared a "terrorist organisation".

Thousands of people have been arrested since.

In the latest mass trial, all defendants had faced a possible death penalty, but instead:

  • 43 were sentenced to life imprisonment (25 years)
  • 17 were sentenced to 15 years
  • 67 were given 10-year sentences
  • 216 were given five years
  • 52 were acquitted

It remains unclear exactly what sentences the others received.

Amnesty International labelled the mass trial "utterly disgraceful" and accused the court of "sham proceedings".

It claimed that out of 330 defendants who had been imprisoned for more than four years, there was only evidence against two of them.

"These proceedings expose the deep flaws in Egypt's notorious criminal justice system," the group's North Africa campaign spokesperson, Najia Bounaim, said.

At least 18 policemen have been killed in an attack on a convoy in Egypt's Sinai peninsula claimed by so-called Islamic State, security sources say.

Militants detonated a roadside bomb near the town of el-Arish, reportedly destroying three armoured vehicles and a fourth with signal-jamming equipment.

They then opened fire with machine guns at survivors of the blast.

The interior ministry confirmed there had been an attack and that several policemen had been killed or injured.

Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed by militants affiliated to IS since 2013, when the Egyptian military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

The jihadists have also killed dozens of people in attacks targeting Egypt's Coptic Christian minority elsewhere in the country, and claimed it planted the bomb that brought down a plane carrying tourists in Sinai in 2015, killing 224 people on board.

In Monday's attack, the police convoy was travelling along the road between el-Arish and Qantara when a suspect vehicle tried to break through it, according to an interior ministry statement.

"When police forces dealt with the vehicle, it exploded and caused damages to the patrol's vehicles," it added. "This was followed by a shootout between the police officers and the terrorists, resulting in the death and injury of several policemen."

It did not provide any casualty figures, but the attack appears to have been the deadliest on security forces in Sinai since July, when at least 23 soldiers were killed in a suicide car bombing that targeted a checkpoint near the Gaza border.

IS claimed it was behind the attack via its news agency Amaq.

It comes a day after the interior ministry said security forces had killed 10 suspected militants in a shootout during a raid on two apartments in Cairo.

Investigators had received information about militants travelling from northern Sinai to the capital to prepare for attacks on neighbouring provinces, it added.

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered the tomb of a royal goldsmith containing the mummies of a woman and her two children, authorities said.

The tomb, dating back to the New Kingdom (16th to 11th Centuries BC), was found near the Nile city of Luxor, 400 miles (700km) south of Cairo.

Among the items discovered inside was a statue of the goldsmith Amenemhat, sitting beside his wife.

It is unclear whether the three mummies discovered are connected to Amenemhat.

The mummies were found down a burial shaft leading off the main chamber, Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities said.

According to the archaeologists, the mother died aged about 50, with tests revealing she had a bacterial bone disease. Her two sons were in their 20s and 30s and their bodies said to have been preserved in good condition.

Authorities believe the tomb of Amenemhat, who was goldsmith for the god Amun, the period's most powerful deity, could lead them to further discoveries in the Draa Abul Naga necropolis, an area famed for its temples and burial grounds.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani said: "We found many objects of the funerary equipment inside and outside the tomb. We found mummies, coffins, funerary combs, funerary masks, some jewellery, and statue.

"The work did not finish yet."

Mr Anani said archaeologists had read four new names.

"What about those four new names? How about their tombs? Their tombs are not discovered yet. But I believe they are owners of the tomb," he said.

"I believe, inshallah, for the coming season, we are going to do our excavations. We are going to do our excavations in this area. So I believe we can find one, or two or maybe four if we are going to be very lucky, four of them in this area."

 

Egypt gained revenge for Friday's defeat in Kampala by beating Uganda 1-0 in Alexandria to leapfrog their opponents at the top of Group E.

Mohamed Salah scored the winner after six minutes, netting at the second attempt after Uganda goalkeeper Dennis Onyango blocked his first effort.

Onyango's saves kept Uganda in the tie.

There were huge celebrations at the end among Egyptians, who have not been to the World Cup since 1990 despite winning four African titles since.

The North Africans now have nine points, Uganda seven, while Ghana - who have appeared at the last three World Cups - lie in third with five points after thumping Congo 5-1 in Brazzaville.

Congo, with just one point, can no longer qualify for next year's tournament in Russia.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey hit a hat-trick to inspire Ghana to their first win in the group - at the fourth time of asking - which came four days after being held to a 1-1 draw at home by the same opponents.

Partey, 24, scored his first international goal in that game.

Richmond Boakye grabbed a brace while Ukraine-born Vladis Illoy Ayyet scored a consolation for Congo.

Congo had started the game in Brazzaville strongly but were overpowered after Ghana opened the scoring against the run of play after 23 minutes through Boakye, with Partey doubling that lead just three minutes later.

In a topsy-turvy spell just before half-time, Illoy Ayyet scored his first goal for Congo after 43 minutes only for Partey to spin cleverly and fire home Christian Atsu's pass from a tight angle in first-half stoppage time.

With 21 minutes left on the clock, Partey resembled a seasoned striker as he lashed into the top corner after 69 minutes to seal his hat-trick.

Top of Form

Uganda moved to the top of Group E in Africa's 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Egypt.

In a later game on Thursday, Guinea beat Libya 3-2 in Conakry.

Uganda's Tanzania-based forward Emmanuel Okwi scored the only goal of the game six minutes after half-time.

The 30-year-old cut into the area from the right and after some fancy footwork drove the ball low past veteran Egyptian goal keeper Essam El Hadary to give the Cranes the lead.

It is a first win for Uganda over Egypt since 1965.

The last time the two met competitively was at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year in Gabon with Egypt emerging as 1-0 winners. 

Mahmoud Kahraba thought he had given the visitors the lead after 35 minutes but his effort was controversially ruled out for offside.

Replays showed that neither Kharaba nor Trezeget, who set up the shot, were offside when Mohamed Salah lifted the ball into the area.

Most of Uganda's threat in the first half had come from Okwi, who had forced El Hadary into tipping the ball over the bar with a cross-cum-shot.

Liverpool's Salah had one of the best chances to equalise for Egypt but his close-range header was well saved by Denis Onyango.

Deep into the seven minutes of injury time, Salah had another chance to score but he shot into the back of his team-mate Ahmed Hegazi and the ball went out for a goal kick.

The two sides meet again in the Egyptian city of Alexandria on Tuesday.

Uganda now have seven points from three matches so far - one more than Egypt.

Ghana, who have a single point, play their third qualifier tomorrow against visiting pointless Congo Brazzaville.

In Group A of Africa's 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, Guinea beat Libya 3-2 with a 93rd minute winner.

Guinea had taken a swift 2-0 lead in the match which featured two teams searching for their first points of the campaign.

Naby Keita scored Guinea's opening goal after seven minutes with Aboubacar Demba Camara adding a second 15 minutes later.

In the second half, RB Leipzig's Keita -  who this week signed a deal to join Liverpool  in July 2018 - had a chance to make it 3-0 to Guinea.

He stepped up to take a penalty, but he missed from the spot and was almost left to pay for the error, as Libya staged a remarkable comeback.

In a frenetic finish to the match, Libya's Motasem Sabbou made it 2-1 after 87 minutes, and just a minute later Akram Zuway scored for the visitors to make it 2-2.

However, Guinea had the final word as Alkhali Bangoura hit a winner with virtually the last kick of the game to bring the hosts all three points.

Guinea are third in Group A, behind group leaders Tunisia and DR Congo who face each other in Rades on Friday.

Only the winners of the five qualifying groups will represent Africa at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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