Claims of intimidation at Egypt police abuse trial
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Last Updated: Saturday, September 25, 2010, 21:43
Alexandria: The family of an Egyptian man allegedly beaten to death by two policemen accused local authorities of intimidating witnesses and the victim's supporters during the trial today in a case that has focused national attention on police brutality in Egypt.

Khaled Said died on June 6. Witnesses say two plainclothes policemen dragged him out of an Internet cafe in the northern port city of Alexandria and beat him to death.

The government maintains that Said died from suffocation after swallowing a packet of drugs - a claim met with derision by many after photos of Said's corpse were widely circulated, showing his body covered with bruises, his teeth broken and jaw smashed.

The killing became a rallying point for government critics who denounced it as an example of rampant police abuses in Egypt. The case led to street protests in Cairo and Alexandria, and the US State Department and rights groups including Amnesty International have called for a transparent investigation.

After the public outcry, prosecutors charged the officers, Mahmoud Salah and Awad Ismail Suleiman, with illegal arrest and harsh treatment, although not with murder as the victim's family had demanded.

At a trial session today, the victim's uncle, Ali Guindi, said hundreds of police supporters packed the courtroom, shoving and blocking witnesses for the prosecution and Said supporters from entering.

Outside the court, hundreds of police supporters held posters bearing a picture of Said, who police have accused of dealing drugs, and the words, "drug trafficker." A group of pro-Said activists responded by waving posters that read: "The gangs of the Interior Ministry."

Also, a television crew for the Al-Arabiya network said police confiscated their equipment and assaulted them while covering today's session.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Gen. Hamdi Abdel Karim, declined to comment on the proceedings, saying police are responsible for protecting the court and any complaints should be addressed to the presiding judge.

The trial will resume October 23.


First Published: Saturday, September 25, 2010, 21:43

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