Two Egyptian policemen sentenced over blogger's death

Monday 03 March 2014 18.34
Two policemen Mahmoud Salah (L) and Awad Ismael (R) stand inside a court cage during their trial
Two policemen Mahmoud Salah (L) and Awad Ismael (R) stand inside a court cage during their trial

Two Egyptian policemen were sentenced to ten years in prison for torturing an activist to death in 2010 in an incident that became one of the triggers for the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Witnesses and rights groups said 28-year-old Khaled Said died after police dragged him out of an internet cafe in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and beat him to death.

Before he died, Said posted an internet video purportedly showing two policemen sharing the spoils of a drug bust.

His death galvanised anger, in particular through the Facebook page "We are all Khaled Said", that focused attention on the rights violations by the police that many said were commonplace at the time.

That campaign morphed into nationwide marches calling for the dissolution of parliament and disbanding of the state security agency.

Government autopsies carried out before the 2011 uprising found that Said had choked on a plastic roll of drugs and his injuries were not the cause of his death.

The two policemen - Mahmoud Salah and Awad Ismael - were sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011, but a court cancelled the ruling after an appeal and ordered a retrial.

They were sentenced to ten years this morning.

"We wanted the death penalty ... 10 years is too little," Said's sister Zahra said.

"Still this is a victory for the January 25 revolution because the symbol that they tried to tarnish turned out to be innocent," she added referring to the revolt against Mr Mubarak.

Under the Mubarak regime, human rights groups accused the police of widespread torture.

Activists say security forces are again abusing power since the army ousted President Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood last July following mass protests against him.

Authorities deny the accusations and say they are committed to democracy as Egypt moves towards presidential and parliamentary elections expected in a few months.

Keywords: egypt