Egyptian Copt gets life sentence over sectarian killings

An Egypt delivered on Saturday verdicts against 11 Christian and Muslim men

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An Egyptian Copt was sentenced Saturday to life in prison as 10 others got jail terms from six months to 15 years over sectarian deaths in April, judicial sources said.

Seven people -- five Christians, one Muslim and an unidentified man -- were killed when sectarian violence erupted in Al-Khusus, north of Cairo, after a Muslim objected to children drawing a swastika on a religious institute.

He then insulted Christians and the incident flared into an exchange of gunfire between Muslims and Christians, security officials said at the time.

Several shops and houses were also set ablaze.

On Saturday, a court in Benha, north of the capital, delivered the verdicts against 11 Christian and Muslim men.

It also acquitted 32 others out of a total of 43 defendants in the case, the judicial sources said.

Five defendants are still at large, they added without offering further details.

Of those sentenced three were Copts. One was handed down a life term and the other two got 15 years.

The others found guilty were Muslims: four were sentenced to five years, three to three years and one to six months.

Sectarian clashes between Copts and Muslims regularly occur in Egypt.

Copts represent nearly 10 percent of Egypt's population of about 85 million people and are the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

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