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Two police officers who beat activist to death to be tried on torture charge

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders notes that two police officers are to be prosecuted for their involvement in a young activist's death in Alexandria on 6 June 2010 but the charges being brought against them do not include murder.

The activist, Khaled Mohammed Said, was beaten to death outside an Internet café after being arrested by two plain-clothes police officers. His family and local human rights organisations say he had just posted a video online showing police officers sharing the proceeds from a drug deal.

The authorities announced on 3 July that police officers Mahmoud Salah Amin and Awad Ismail Souleiman have been charged with arbitrary arrest, torture and excessive use of force in connection with Said's death.

"It is rare for policemen to be prosecuted for abuses in Egypt and this prosecution is a step in the right direction," Reporters Without Borders said. "But we call on the Egyptian judicial system to go all the way and try them for murder. Its credibility is at stake. It is nonsensical that these two police officers should be tried for beating Said without any account being taken of the beating's tragic consequences - his death."

Two weeks after Said's death, Reporters Without Borders issued a release voicing its outrage and calling for an independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances of the killing.

The authorities initially denied that the two police officers were involved. When Said's family filed a complaint with the prosecutor's office on 7 June, they found that the police had already filed a report claiming he had died from a drug overdose. According to the police, he swallowed a small bag containing drugs as the police went to arrest him.

Said's death has prompted many demonstrations in Egypt and condemnation from human rights groups. The European Union called for an "impartial" investigation.

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