Reuters International

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court sentenced a policeman to life imprisonment on Saturday for killing a rickshaw driver during an argument over a fare, a case that has fuelled public anger about perceived police brutality.

Police Sergeant Mostafa Abdel Haseeb shot tuk-tuk driver Mohamed Ismail, 25, fatally in the head following the dispute in February.

Furious local residents tried to catch Abdel Haseeb and kill him as he fled the scene, and hundreds of people gathered soon afterwards outside the Cairo's police headquarters in protest.

Saturday's verdict, which can be appealed, highlights mounting public concern about alleged excesses by Egypt's police force.

In February, thousands of doctors held a rare protest against police officers they say beat two doctors at a Cairo hospital for refusing to falsify medical records.

Accusations of police brutality came under sharp focus after the body of a missing Italian graduate student was found in February, on the outskirts of Cairo showing signs of torture, including electrocution.

Activists said Regeni's injuries bore the hallmarks of the Egyptian security services. The Interior Ministry has denied any involvement.

In March, Egyptian police said they had discovered the belongings of Giulio Regeni, who was tortured and killed in Cairo, following a shootout with a criminal gang.

Italian officials dismissed the story and Regeni's family said it was clear Giulio had not been killed for criminal gain.

Egyptian officials say the investigations are still ongoing.

Anger over perceived police excesses helped fuel the 2011 revolt that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule and began on a Police Day holiday.

(Reporting by Haitham Ahmed; Writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Helen Popper)

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 Reuters International