CAIRO: Over the past three years, Egypt has remembered the June 6 death of Khaled Said, whose brutal 2010 death while in state custody helped sparked the 2011 January 25 Revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak. However, Egypt is preparing this year for another event: the inauguration of President-elect Abel Fatah al-Sisi.
Political parties and youth are always staging protests; members from the April 6 Youth Movement, Al-Dostor party and others have staged demonstration in Said’s honor over the past three years calling for death penalties for his murderers. But the fourth anniversary of Khaled Said’s death lacks such activities. Instead there has been nonstop criticism against the imprisonment of political activists who in the past protested in solidarity with Said.
In Said’s hometown, Alexandria, eight political activists, including Mahienour el-Masry and Omar Hazeq, were sentenced to two years in custody and fined 50,000 EGP ($7,000) for violating the 2013 Protest Law when they were demonstrating in solidarity with Said.
On March 3, the two policemen accused of killing Said—Mohamed Salah and Awad Ismail—were sentenced to 10 years in jail as a final sentence and many political activists saw the sentence as too lenient.
“June 6, 2014 is the fourth anniversary of the murder of Khaled Said. Loai, Omar, Naser, and Mahienour are in prison because they remind us of his death,” wrote political activist Mona Seif on her Twitter account.
The Marijuana cigarette:
Said was beaten to death by policemen, but they initially claimed he died after swallowing a marijuana cigarette and denied it was murder. A forensic medical report in July 2011 revealed that the cigarette was put in Said’s mouth after his death and described the first report conducted by former state forensic medicine head El-Sebaei Ahmed as “corrupt.”
“Swallowing a marijuana cigarette is impossible as it is known that the epiglottis closes the oral airway during swallowing,” the report said.
The policemen’s lawyer Ihab Abdel-Aziz claimed in a trial hearing session in January that Said was summoned by the police over charges against him (without clarifying these charges) and he tried to escape because he had no ID; Abdel-Aziz added that Said swallowed the joint which caused his death, ONA agency reported.
Said is not the only victim of prison torture
Hossam Atta was reported by political activists to have been killed in Torah prison after another inmate, Mostafa El-Ghareeb testified in February 2013 that Atta was killed in prison due to torture, not by swallowing marijuana cigarettes.
However, the Deputy Minister of Interior for the Prisons Department Mohamed Naguib told Dream2 Channel program “Egypt in a day” Monday that Atta was killed by swallowing a number of marijuana cigarettes he took from his mother.
Sayyed Belal was another victim of prison torture. He was arrested in Alexandria on Jan. 5, 2011 after a bombing at Two Saints Church on New Year’s Eve 2011 that killed hundreds of Coptic Christians.
A day after his detention, Belal was sent back to his family as a dead body. A police officer from the dissolved State Security service, Osama al-Keneisy, was convicted of Belal’s death and sentenced to 15 years in jail on April 16, 2013. This March, the appeal filed by Keneisy was upheld, Al-Shorouq newspaper reported.
Additional Reporing to Randa El-Banna