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Khaled Said, a 28-year-old man from Alexandria was beaten up to death by two policemen as he refused to give them money, a human rights group said on 10 June.
Witnesses called el-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Torture and recounted to its lawyers the incident.
“On Sunday, Khaled was at cyber café at around 11:30 in the evening. Two policemen asked him for money and when he said he didn’t have, they beat him,” Muhammad Abdel Aziz, lawyer with el-Nadeem, told al-Masry al-Youm. “As he was beaten up, his head hit a marble table and he started bleeding.”
According to Abdel Aziz, the policemen took Said out of the cyber café and continued to beat him. “He screamed at them saying ‘I am dying, leave me’, and he fell on the floor.” Abdel Aziz added that witnesses saw a yellow liquid coming out of Said’s mouth when he fell on the floor, after which there was bleeding. A pharmacist and a medic passing by confirmed he was shortly dead after they checked his tension.
Witnesses said a police car picked Said up. His family was later contacted and told he is in the morgue of Kom el-Dekka, to which they were denied access. At the prosecutor’s office, security told Said’s mother and brother that he swallowed a bag of drugs and that there were witnesses to the incident who confirmed seeing the bag. Ahmad Badawy, an activist in Alexandria with al-Ghad Party went on 11 June to the cyber café where the incident happened and said witnesses told him the drugs bag belonged to the two policemen who beat him up as he was shooting a video of them while making a deal.
The police has ordered an autopsy of Said's body.
“The forensic authorities report will be crucial in tomorrow’s investigation,” Abdel Aziz said. “Alexandria’s forensic authorities are well reputed for the quality of their reports. But it is the prosecutor’s final report that will decide for the future of the case.”
In the evening of 10 June, a group of activists protested in front of the Sidi Bishr prosecutor office in Alexandria against the alleged torture of Said. Protestors recounted in a video that they gathered in solidarity with the family of Said, demanding a fair investigation into the issue, when police intervened and attacked some of them. According to Abdel Aziz, 11 protestors were arrested, four of whom were released and the rest is still facing accusations of disturbing public order and of illegal association.
The incident sparked a state of anger on online social media, which have been recently key in spreading news about human rights violations in the country. "You can see in this crime how social media were working all day and night," said Noha Atef, author of Torture in Egypt, a blog documenting Egypt's incidents of torture thoroughtly. "For instance, the arrest of protesters in front of Sidi Gaber station in Alexandria was filmed by a blogger and uploaded to Youtube, [which got] almost 2,000 viewers. Social media are also playing a major role in the process of reacting to this crime; they are being used to organize and mobilize for Sunday's protest in front of the Ministry of Interior's [premises]." Human rights activists have called for a protest against police torture on 13 June in front of the offices of the Ministry of Interior.
Alexandria’s prosecutor office was unavailable to comment.
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International called for an immediate investigation into the death of Said in a statement published on 11 June. "The horrific photographs are shocking evidence of the abuses taking place in Egypt which are in stark contrast to the image of the country depicted today by Egyptian officials to members of the UN Human Rights Council and their reluctant recognition of some minor wrongdoings," said Amnesty International. Egyptian officials gathered in Geneva on 11 June for the country's Universal Periodic Review of its human rights status.
Human rights watchdogs have repeatedly called Egypt’s torture practices as consistent and systematic.