Cairo: A court in Upper Egypt on Tuesday handed down jail terms to six policemen after convicting them of torturing a detainee to death in the country’s latest crackdown on abusive police personnel, legal sources said.

The Criminal Court in the southern city of Qena sentenced a police officer to seven years in prison and five police detectives to three years in jail each in the case that sparked anti-government protests last year, the sources added.

Seven co-defendants were acquitted. The court also ordered the interior minister, in charge of police, to pay 1.5 million Egyptian pounds (about Dh62,000) in compensation to the victim’s family.

All the rulings can be appealed.

The case is related to the death of Talaat Al Rasheed in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor in police custody last November.

Al Rasheed, 45, was arrested at a cafe in his hometown Luxor allegedly for possessing drugs. Later, he was pronounced dead and his family accused police of torturing him to death.

News of his death triggered angry street protests in Luxor.

The victim suffered fractures in the neck resulting in a rupture in the spinal cord, according to an official forensics report published in local media.

In recent months, rights groups and the opposition have claimed widespread violations by security agencies in Egypt.

Earlier this year, President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi ordered the Interior Ministry to submit proposals to parliament for toughening penalties against policemen found guilty of human rights abuses.

The government says that police violations are “isolated acts” and wrongdoers are punished.

Tuesday’s verdict is the latest in a series against policemen accused in different cases of fatal torture or shooting at ordinary people in street fights.

In March, an Egyptian court sentenced a policeman to life in prison for shooting dead a driver in a Cairo street.

Police brutality was a key driving force for a 2011 popular uprising that eventually forced long-standing president Hosni Mubarak to step down.