Residents of Al-Darb Al-Ahmar neighborhood protest in front of the Cairo security directorate in Cairo, Egypt, February 18, 2016 (Reuters)
An Egyptian policeman was sentenced to life in prison on Saturday for killing a driver in an argument over a fare, one of the harshest sentences issued to policemen convicted of similar violent crimes.
A criminal court found the low-ranking policeman, Mostafa Veto, guilty of the killing which occurred on 18 February in the working-class Cairo district of Al-Darb Al-Ahmar, and provoked protests by residents.
The convicted acknowledged during interrogation that he has used his gun to shoot the victim in the head following an altercation, an account supported by eyewitnesses. Forensic reports concluded that the driver was killed by a bullet shot from Veto's gun.
Veto, who is in custody, still has the right to appeal Saturday's verdict.
The witnesses told prosecutors that the argument between the driver and policeman started over the fare for Veto's ride.
The policeman promised the driver LE200 (around $23) for the ride but only paid LE20 (around $2), witnesses said.
An interior ministry statement following the incident attested that the policeman fired his gun to disperse a crowd of locals who had gathered and were sympathising with the driver, and those shots accidentally led to the death of the driver.
The Cairo security directorate in an earlier statement said the policeman had shot dead the driver "by mistake."
Hundreds of people converged outside the security directorate to protest the death on the day of the incident.