Cairo (Agencies): A court in Egypt has approved the death sentence against a man convicted of killing six Christians outside a church but acquitted two alleged accomplices.

The State Security emergency court had referred Mohammed Ahmad Hussein to the country's top government cleric last month, a legal formality before the court can declare a death sentence.

The court delayed its verdict on the two other defendants until Sunday's hearing.

Hussein will be hanged for killing six Copts and a Muslim policeman in the southern town of Nagaa Hammadi after the Coptic Christmas Eve Mass in January 2010.

The court acquitted Qorshi Abul Haggag Muhammed and Hindawi Muhammed Sayyid, whom the police had detained along with Hussein several days after the massacre.

Before an Alexandria church bombing early this year claiming 21 people, the Nagaa Hammadi attack had been the deadliest of its kind since 2000 when 20 Copts were killed in sectarian fightings.

Copts make up nearly 10 per cent of Egypt's 80-million population.