Egypt court delays verdict in policemen’s trial

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An Egyptian activist, whose death last year contributed to the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, died from asphyxiation caused by a roll forced into his mouth while he was unconscious, the state news agency MENA reported.

A criminal court trying two policemen accused of killing the activist, Khaled Said, adjourned the trial until October 22 to allow lawyers to examine a forensic report submitted to the court on Saturday by a team of independent medical experts from medical schools in Cairo and Alexandria.

MENA, citing the 25-page forensic report, said it stated that Said had died from “asphyxia, not choking”.

It said the medical experts had uncovered information indicating that “the victim had been subjected to beating and that a roll was stuffed inside his mouth by force while he was unconscious”.

Witnesses and rights activists have said that Said, 28, died in the port city of Alexandria in June last year after two policemen dragged him out of an internet cafe and beat him. Egyptian authorities said he died after choking on drugs.

Before the attack, Said posted an internet video purporting to show two policemen sharing the spoils of a drug bust. His death became a rallying cry for activists behind the January 25 uprising that culminated in Mubarak’s removal on February 11.

The general prosecutor charged two men, police sergeant Awad Suleiman and policeman Mahmoud Salah, with illegally arresting and physically torturing Said, charges that carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Murder charges have not been filed.

The judge, citing the need to “ensure a proper conduct of justice”, ordered a news blackout on the hearings from the next court session until a verdict was reached, witnesses said.



U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has said there was evidence that two plainclothes policemen killed Said and the state had failed to explain signs of beatings on his body.