Sunday, June 5, 2011

Death of driver in police custody sparks clashes in Cairo

Al-Masry Al-Youm
Death of driver in police custody sparks clashes in Cairo

Sat, 04/06/2011

Violence broke out on Friday afternoon between citizens and police officers from Azbakeya police station.
The fight started after a driver detained at the station died. Colleagues and relatives of Mohamed Saeed, 40, accused the police of torturing him to death.

The Ministry of Interior denied this, saying locals beat the driver after he assaulted the head of the police station. It added that he died at the Demerdash Hospital.

Eyewitnesses said they saw stones and Molotov cocktails being thrown near the station. Central security forces used tear gas to disperse the protesters, who torched a central security truck. Some protesters claimed the police brought in thugs to attack them.

Disturbances initially erupted when officers from the police station detained eight drivers in Ramses Square for obstructing traffic. When fellow drivers learned of Saeed's death after an alleged beating, they attempted to break into the station. Police responded by firing shots into the air to disperse them.

Walid Mahmoud, a driver, claimed the police beat the arrested drivers with sticks, injuring some of them. "One hour later Saeed died, even though he was able-bodied," he said.

On its official Facebook page, the Interior Ministry said the deceased driver obstructed traffic by stopping in the middle of the road and loading passengers unsystematically. It said he refused to show his driving license or step out of the car, and that he insulted and hit the head of the Azbakeya police station.

The ministry added that the drivers' behavior angered locals, who prevented Saeed from driving off, forced him out of the car and beat him.

The statement did not say how police reacted, and whether they intervened to prevent the people from beating the driver or arrested his attackers.

The ministry said that Saeed felt extremely tired and was taken to the Demerdash Hospital where he died. It added that Saeed had been charged in eight previous cases.

*Translated from the Arabic Edition
*Photo by Mohamed Hossam Eddin

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