Two policemen have been sentenced to 10 years in jail for killing an Egyptian blogger more than three years after the incident, which was one of the events that inspired the 18-day revolt in 2011.
Policemen Mahmoud Salah Mahmoud and Awad Ismail Suleiman were accused of manslaughter and of torturing Khaled Said in June 2010 after unlawfully arresting him at an Internet cafe in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.
The case stirred public anger and pictures of Said’s badly injured face went viral on the Internet, sparking calls for protests across the country against human rights violations by then President Hosni Mubarak’s security forces.
Massive protests the following year led to the toppling of the longterm ruler.
An initial trial sentenced the defendants to seven years in jail in October 2011 after finding them guilty of unlawful arrest and excessive brutality.
Egypt’s Court of Cassation ordered the retrial after the defendants appealed, while angry supporters of Said felt the sentence was too lenient.
“We have asked for the maximum sentence, which is 15 years in prison,” Mahmud el-Bakri Atifi, lawyer for Said’s family, told AFP, adding that the earlier verdict was an “injustice”.
“Egyptians must be reassured that the police offer them security and are not a threat to them.”
Police initially said that Said choked to death after swallowing a packet of drugs.
Medics, however, said he died of asphyxiation after being beaten, and that the packet of drugs was thrust in his mouth when he was unconscious.
Said’s death became a flashpoint between Mubarak’s government and opposition activists, who vented their anger on a Facebook page called “We are all Khaled Said”.
It was on this page that one of the first calls was issued for the revolt which toppled Mubarak.
Said’s supporters and opposition activists have often clashed with security forces, in particular during the trial hearings.
The court’s verdict comes as police forces increasingly face fresh accusations of alleged brutality and torturing of activists detained in Egyptian prisons. The Ministry of Interior denies these claims.