CAIRO, April 5 (Reuters) - An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced a police officer to death for the 2012 killing of two men in the southern province of Qena, state news agency MENA reported.
Mahmoud Fathi Ali Al-Ataar, a police captain, was standing trial on charges of killing a local driver and a salesman in January 2012 and stealing 130,000 Egyptian pounds ($18,600) from the men.
The judge in Qena ruled that the policeman's file be referred to the mufti, the country's highest religious authority to whom death sentences are always sent for review.
The judge scheduled the next hearing in the trial until June 2, pending the mufti's review of the sentences, state news agency MENA reported.
Harsh sentences against policemen and soldiers are rare, but last month, an Egyptian court in Minya, another southern province, sentenced 529 supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement to death, drawing strong criticism from Western governments and human rights groups. ($1 = 6.9724 Egyptian Pounds) (Reporting by Maggie Fick; Editing by Eric Walsh)