EGYPT: Alleged police beating death sparks nationwide fury
Anger over the death of a man allegedly at the hands of two undercover police officers in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria has sparked anger across the nation and condemnation by human-rights organizations and a Facebook group dedicated to finding out what happened to Khaled Mohamed Saied.
On Sunday, security forces outside the Interior Ministry in the capital, Cairo, broke up a march by 200 protesters before allowing it to resume about 300 yards away amid tight security.
Demonstrators, carrying banners that read "Trial for Khaled Saied's murderers," were demanding an investigation into Saied's death. Protesters shouted that "Khaled was murdered" and lay the blame on Interior Minister Habib Adli.
Following his death on June 6, human-rights groups, including Amnesty International, said that Saied was arrested in an Internet cafe by two undercover policemen, who tortured and beat him to death at the entrance of a nearby building. Photos of Saied's beaten face and body spread across social-networking websites.
The Ministry of Interior issued a statement rebuffing accusations that police had a hand in the killing, adding: "The forensic report showed that Saied, who was at large following two criminal convictions, died of suffocation from an overdose of drugs he swallowed immediately before his capture."
A statement issued by the opposition movement April 6 Youth, argued that photographs of Saied after his death provided evidence that he died as a result of having been beaten and claim "he was severely beaten while he was still alive."
Speaking in an interview filmed by the El Ghad opposition party, cafe owner Hassan Mosbah said that two officers had come into his shop and dragged Saied to an adjacent house, where they beat him.
"We thought they would just interrogate him or ask him questions," Mosbah said. "But they took him as he struggled with his hands behind his back and banged his head against the marble table inside here."
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Photo: Protesters carry Saied's photo in a protest in Cairo on June 13, 2010. Credit: Associated Press