Egypt: Trial of Khaled Saeed's alleged murderers resumes
Al-Masry Al-Youm, Noha El-Hennawy
The trial of the two policemen who allegedly beat a young man to death earlier this year resumed on Saturday amidst a resurgence of street demonstrations against human rights violations by the security forces.
Lawyers speaking on behalf of the victim demanded that the case be postponed again until all witnesses were present. In particular they insisted that the chief forensic officer who completed the autopsy report on Saeed should be present to give evidence.
“We insist that he comes to court to be questioned about the report,” said lawyer Raafat Nawwar. “He is the backbone of this case. His report is flawed and I cannot reveal the flaws until the next hearings. Our statements will be quite shocking.”
The court decided to adjourn the hearings until 23 October.
In June, news of the death of Khaled Saeed in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria made headlines. According to witnesses, the 28-year-old man was dragged out of an internet cafe before having his head repeatedly smashed against the ground. Allegedly Saeed’s family have said that he was killed after posting a video on the internet showing the involvement of policemen in drug deals.
However, the forensic report released in late June denied that Saeed was beaten to death confirming an earlier statement made by the minister of the interior that the victim died after choking on a bag of drugs.
“The case is 400 pages long and there is no evidence that could support the conviction of the defendants,” Refaat Abdel Hamid, lawyer for the defense, told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
In today’s hearings, Abdel Hamid claimed that Saeed’s family may have tampered with the victim’s body before the funeral. He also alleged that Saeed’s brother had bribed the guard at the mortuary, removed his brother’s body from cold storage and poured blood on his face before photographing him and circulating the pictures.
“This was meant to falsify evidence and mislead the court,” said Abdel Hamid.
However, the pictures circulated both in cyberspace and in the media show more than blood. Photos showing Saeed’s deformed face, crushed head and twisted jaw have stirred outrage in thousands of Egyptians who took to the street demanding the prosecution of the policemen involved. The case also drew harsh criticism from western governments and international human rights organizations.
On July 27, two undercover policemen Mahmoud Salah Mahmoud and Awad Ismail Suliman first took the stand in the Alexandria criminal court on charges that included illegal arrest and use of excessive force.
On Friday, Saeed’s supporters used Facebook to urge people to gather outside the Alexandria Court of First Instance to express their full support of the case and their condemnation of police human rights abuses.
“We are going there to tell the Egyptian judiciary and the world that Saeed’s case is a matter of public concern that will never die,” read the Facebook page called “We are All Khaled Saeed”.
In the wake of Saeed’s death, the page of the social networking site was created anonymously to serve as a platform to promote case. So far, the page has attracted nearly 280,000 people.
Nearly a hundred of pro-Saeed demonstrators were confronted by hundreds of riot police who encircled the court building, and people believed to be plainclothes policemen raised banners in support of the two detectives and shouted, “They are drug addicts,” pointing at their adversaries.
Some took off their shirts and stood in their underwear brandishing wooden sticks to intimidate Saeed’s sympathizers, according to witnesses.
“This is a group of secret police and thugs,” said Khaled al-Sayed, a 26-year-old engineer who traveled from Cairo to Alexandria with another 23 activists to participate in the pro-Saeed protest. “The police are harassing all those who sympathize with the case and keeping the trial on hold so that people will get bored and give up.”
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