Last updated: 26 October, 2011

Egypt policemen jailed for death of protest icon

An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced two policemen to seven years in jail for their role in the 2010 death of Khaled Said who became a symbol of the fight against police torture.

“Alexandria Criminal Court has sentenced two policemen from the Sidi Gaber police station to seven years in jail with hard labour in the case of Khaled Said’s death,” the official MENA news agency reported.

In June 2010, policemen Mahmud Salah Mahmud and Awad Ismail Suleiman dragged Said out of an Internet cafe and severely beat him on a busy street in Alexandria.

Said’s death sparked mass protests around the country and a Facebook page dedicated to him — “We are all Khaled Said” — helped launch the uprising that toppled veteran president Hosni Mubarak in February.

A government report initially said Said had died after choking on drugs, but in September a panel said that was not the case.

Although pictures of Said’s corpse showed a crushed face missing the lower lip, the government’s chief coroner at the time said he died after ingesting a bag of marijuana.

But the medical panel said in its report that Said died of asphyxiation after he was beaten, and a bag had been placed in his mouth after he fell unconscious.

“We are all Khaled Said” activists said the case had cleared Said’s name once and for all, but that the sentence was too lenient.

“The ruling today is a message to all those who said Khaled died because of drugs,” the group said in a Facebook post.

“But as to the sentence of seven years, the case is not over. Justice must be done for Khaled and for all Egyptians like him who were being killed, tortured, humiliated and robbed with no accountability,” it said.

Said’s case dominated the headlines for weeks and sparked nationwide outrage.

The local prosecutor had closed the investigation and ordered Said’s burial, but escalating public protests prompted a new investigation into the case and its referral to a court.

Anger against routine police abuse and torture were a driving force behind the massive popular protests that ousted Mubarak.

Last month, London-based human rights group Amnesty International said detainees were “still being subjected to torture and other ill-treatment” after a video circulating online showed officers assaulting two detainees.