Egypt Court Upholds 10-Year Prison Sentence for 2 Mubarak-Era Policemen

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Published Wednesday, March 4, 2015

An Egyptian court upheld a 10-year prison sentence on Wednesday imposed on two policemen for killing an activist in 2010, judicial sources said. The activist’s death helped trigger the uprising that toppled veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Witnesses and rights groups said 28-year-old Khaled Said died after police beat him outside an Internet cafe in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

Activists launched an online campaign against police brutality that, alongside other strikes, meetings and rallies, morphed into nationwide marches calling for the dissolution of parliament and the disbanding of the state security agency in 2011.

The policemen were sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011, but a court canceled the ruling after an appeal and ordered a retrial. They were sentenced again to 10 years in March last year, an order that the cassation court finalized on Wednesday following an appeal.

Rights groups accused the police of widespread torture during Mubarak's rule.

Activists say security forces have committed further abuses since the army ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013 following mass protests against his troubled year in office. Authorities deny the accusations.

Said's sister, Zahraa, said she was not satisfied with the sentence.

"When people are jailed for five or ten years for protesting and ten years for beating someone to death, this does not deserve to be called justice," she told Reuters by phone.

A law banning protests without a police permit has seen scores of people arrested in recent months, including many leading lights of the 2011 uprising against Mubarak.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had also issued a law that allows the referral of violations against state institutions to military courts. The move was widely criticized by local and international rights organizations, which voiced fear that defendants would not receive fair trials before military courts.

Critics accuse Sisi of taking Egypt back to authoritarian rule however Sisi claims that he is committed to democracy in Egypt.

In February, an Egyptian court sentenced 230 anti-Mubarak activists to life in prison for accusations of alleged connections to “the cabinet headquarters events” of December 2011.

An additional 271 people were also referred to a military court in February on charges of belonging to the outlawed Brotherhood group and attacking court buildings in central Egypt two years ago.

Since Mursi’s ouster, the authorities have imprisoned at least 15,000 people accused of allegedly being supporters of the Brotherhood, some of which have been sentenced to life in prison, and has killed at least 1,400.

In a speech late February, Sisi promised to free some youths which may have been wrongly jailed. "Over the next few days the first group of our youths in detention will be released," he said. However weeks later they have yet to be released.

In November, an Egyptian court dismissed murder charges against Mubarak over the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising followed by a court overturning a three year jail sentence against him on corruption charges and ordered a retrial.

About 800 people were killed during the 18-day uprising that unseated Mubarak, in which protesters clashed with police across the country and torched police stations. Mubarak is accused of having ordered the killing of protesters.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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