Saturday, January 15, 2011

Egypt: Police to be probed after 4th fatal beating

IOL News
Egyptian cops to be probed after fourth fatal beating

January 9 2011

Alexandria - The police force of the Egyptian city of Alexandria was facing accusations on Sunday that one of their prisoners was beaten to death while in custody.

It is the fourth such charge levelled against Egyptian law enforcement agencies within seven months.

The newest case revolves around a man named Sayed Bilal, 31, who reportedly died of a heart attack at a private hospital Thursday, a day after his arrest.

His lawyer, Khalaf Ahmed Bayoumi, Sunday accused the city police of violence leading to Bilal's death

“He was arrested without any legal warrants,” Bayoumi, who is also head of the Shehab Centre for Human Rights, told the German Press Agency dpa in a phone interview.

Security sources cited by the al-Masry al-Youm newspaper say Bilal was not subjected to any acts of torture during his detention.

But Bayoumi told dpa that police offered Bilal's family 100,000

Egyptian pounds , an apartment and employment for his brother if they do not testify against police. The lawyer said that his clients were threatened with arrest if they refused the offer and pursued the case in court.

Bilal's family has not yet testified to the attorney general, but a call for a formal investigation has been filed by Bayoumi.

“If he wasn't tortured, why did the police make such an offer?” asked Bayoumi.

A shaky mobile phone video circulating on YouTube showed marks on Bilal's feet and wrists, indicating spots from where Bilal might have been hung, said Bayoumi.

Bayoumi also said there was bruising on his client's back and shoulders from what appears to be severe beating.

Bilal was pictured in Sunday's newspapers sporting the heavy beard common with conservative Muslims, playing with his toddler in a photo that appears to have been taken shortly before his arrest.

He was a follower of the strict Islamic Salafist doctrine. His arrest came less than a week after a bomb ripped through a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria on New Year's Eve, killing 23 people and injuring up to 100.

While the government has said the attack was masterminded by “foreign elements,” a number of Salafists were arrested in the wake of the attack.

This latest case comes just months after Mustafa Attia, 39, was allegedly attacked and beaten to death by two plainclothes police officers in Alexandria.

Just before Attia's death, Amnesty International called for an independent investigation into the death of another Alexandria resident, 19-year-old Ahmed Shaaban.

According to his family, Shaaban's body was found in a canal, with signs of torture after he was detained by police.

Meanwhile, two police are on trial in Alexandria for the case of Khaled Said, 28, who died at the hands of police in early June. The two police officers were charged with assault, but not murder.

The case sparked outrage and large demonstrations against what many Egyptians saw as a police cover-up, after pictures of Said's severely disfigured face appeared on a Facebook group.


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