January 16, 2018 / 3:48 AM / a year ago

Egyptian police referred to criminal court over prisoner's death

CAIRO (Reuters) - A Cairo prosecutor referred two policemen to criminal court on Monday over the death of a detainee shortly after he was arrested on Jan. 5, judicial sources said.

The prosecutor alleges the policemen beat Mohamed Abdul-Hakim to death and detained him without legal grounds. If they are charged, it will be a rare prosecution of members of the Egyptian security forces.

Mohamed Abdul-Hakim, known to his friends and family as Afroto, died in hospital shortly after being arrested on suspicion of drug dealing.

After his death, 43 people were arrested in clashes with security forces that broke out outside the Mokattam police station where he had been briefly held.

A forensics report showed he died as a result of internal bleeding and an injury to his spleen. His brother told Reuters his death was caused by severe beating he received.

Rights groups say police brutality is widespread in Egypt, enabled by a culture of impunity, and a string of incidents have triggered protests and riots.

Anger at police was a major factor in setting off the 2011 uprising that ended President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Egyptian authorities deny allegations that security forces round up people and torture them in secret detention centres.

Reporting by Haitham Ahmed; Writing by Arwa Gaballa; Editing by Andrew Roche

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