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An Egyptian criminal court sentenced this week five people to death for oil pipeline damage that killed nine people in November, Egyptian media report.
Five other people who were involved in the pipeline destruction received a sentence of 25 years in jail.
The ten defendants rented in October a private property in northern Egypt, through which a petroleum pipeline passed, to dig underground and place smaller pipes to steal fuel from the pipeline.
In the middle of November 2019, the would-be petroleum thieves accidentally ruptured the pipeline while trying to steal gasoline, causing a leak and a fire that killed nine people and injured more than a dozen others. A hospital in the area of the village between Alexandria and Cairo was full of survivors from the fire, and there appeared to be more wounded people treated for injuries than reported, one resident told Reuters at the time.
Egypt’s top prosecutor, Hamada al-Sawy, had referred the defendants to a criminal court in the country after the failed fuel thieves confessed to their crime.
In recent years, Egypt has been gradually cutting its fuel subsidy program, aiming to let fuel prices reach international levels and stop subsidizing fuels as part of a program for economic reforms backed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in exchange for loans.
By the middle of 2019, Egypt had phased out subsidies on most fuels, saving government expenses in the process, but allowing fuel prices for consumers to rise.
In July 2019, Egypt decided to create a committee that would set the fuel prices in the country every three months, based on international oil prices. This committee is expected to soon announce the new fuel prices as of April 1, and is considering slashing them by 20-30 percent, due to the low oil prices and the challenges for the economies in the COVID-19 pandemic, local outlet Ahram Online reported this week, citing a source with knowledge of the matter.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.