December 12, 2015

Court jails two policemen for beating lawyer to death



An Egyptian court sentenced two officers with the secret police to five years in prison on Saturday for beating to death an imprisoned lawyer, the second such verdict in a week.

The two officers, a lieutenant colonel and captain with the national security force, had been accused of torturing Karim Hamdi to death in a Cairo police station in February.

He had been held on suspicion of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which the military had ousted from power in 2013.

Both defendants had been released on bail during the course of the trial and it was not clear when they would be detained. They can appeal the ruling.

The verdict came two days after another court sentenced an officer to five years in prison for beating a prisoner to death in a police station.

There has been an increase in reports of beatings and deaths in detention in recent months, prompting President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and the interior ministry to pledge they would hold to account those responsible.

The prosecution referred on Thursday nine policemen to trial on charges of beating a detainee to death in a police station in the southern town of Luxor.

Long running police abuses, including the brutal killing of a young man in 2010 at the hands of two policemen, had fuelled an 18-day uprising that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Mubarak was succeeded in 2012 by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, who lasted a year in power before his ouster by the military following massive rallies demanding the Islamist’s resignation.

Morsi’s overthrow unleashed a deadly crackdown on his supporters and thousands have been detained, and accusations of ill treatment in prisons are common.

The interior ministry has said it does not condone torture but says there have been “individual” cases of abuses.