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Egypt acquits policeman jailed for torture death

The verdict was overturned on appeal and a retrial was ordered. On Thursday an Alexandria court acquitted Shimi and he was released

Published: Updated:

An Egyptian court on Thursday acquitted a policeman who had been jailed for 15 years for torturing to death an Islamist arrested over a church bombing, a judicial official said.

Mohammed Abdel Rahman al-Shimi was convicted of taking part in the torturing of Sayed Bilal to death in the coastal city of Alexandria, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in June 2012.

The verdict was overturned on appeal and a retrial was ordered. On Thursday an Alexandria court acquitted Shimi and he was released.

More than 20 churchgoers were killed weeks before the 2011 uprising against the rule of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside an Alexandria church after New Year’s Eve mass.

Police rounded up Islamists from the hardline Salafi movement after they held protests against the Coptic Church, which they accused of detaining a woman who converted to Islam.

Bilal’s badly bruised body was returned to his family a day after his arrest over the church attack, rights activists said at that time.

Police abuses were a major trigger for the 2011 revolt against Mubarak.

Mubarak and several top aides were later tried for the deaths of some 800 protesters during the 18-day uprising.

In November a court dismissed murder charges against the veteran leader and acquitted his aides.

The police force has managed to rehabilitate itself in the eyes of many Egyptians amid a deadly crackdown on supporters of Mubarak’s successor, Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Morsi was ousted by then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in July 2013.

Last week the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights said that Egyptian security forces, including the police, have stepped up sexual attacks against detainees since Morsi’s ouster.

While hundreds of Morsi supporters have been killed in street clashes with police, thousands more are languishing in jails amid a relentless government crackdown overseen by Sisi.