Egypt to try 9 policemen for death in custody

The policemen are accused of either participating in the beating, approving it or not preventing it

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Egypt on Thursday ordered nine policemen to stand trial for the beating to death of a man in custody, prosecutors said, after authorities vowed a crackdown on police abuses.

The nine, including three lieutenants and a captain, were arrested last week as part of a probe into the death of the 47-year-old at a police station in the southern city of Luxor in November.

Their arrests came amid at least two investigations into deaths in police custody, and after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last week warned that police officers found guilty of "committing mistakes" would be punished.

"The prosecutor general ordered the nine policemen to face a criminal trial," an official at Luxor prosecutor's office told AFP.
He said the start date had yet to be fixed.

The policemen are accused of either participating in the beating, approving it or not preventing it, a judicial official said.

If found guilty, they face a prison term of up to 15 years.

The man had been arrested on November 26 at a cafe in Luxor and taken to the police station where he died an hour later.

A forensic report revealed that he had been beaten on his neck and back, the official MENA news agency reported last week.

Another police officer has been detained in a separate case of a veterinarian who died in police custody last month in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya.

Rights groups regularly accuse Egyptian police and members of the secret police of abusing and torturing detainees.

Police abuses under former president Hosni Mubarak were a key factor for the 2011 uprising that led to his ouster.

One of the triggers of the revolt was the killing of a young man, Khaled Saeed, who was arrested in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and tortured to death by policemen.

Saeed's death galvanized protests against Mubarak after pictures emerged online of the 28-year-old's mangled face.

Egypt was under military rule for 17 months after Mubarak's overthrow and the police kept a low profile.

Islamist Mohamed Mursi then became Egypt's first freely elected leader but was overthrown by then-army chief Sisi in 2013, who has launched a brutal crackdown on Mursi's supporters.

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