Claims of intimidation at Egypt police abuse trial

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.

PTI



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

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