Egypt court delays verdict in policemen's trial

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 24, 2011 7:23 AM
Egypt court delays verdict in policemen's trial

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Reuters) - The trial of two policemen accused of beating an Egyptian activist, whose death contributed to an uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February, was adjourned on Saturday.

The judge set a hearing for October 22, witnesses said, to allow lawyers to study a forensic report submitted by a team of medical experts who had examined the corpse of Khaled Said to determine the cause of his death.

Witnesses and rights activists have said that Said, 28, died in the port city of Alexandria in June last year after two policemen dragged him out of an internet cafe and beat him. Egyptian authorities said he died after choking on drugs.

Before he died Said posted an internet video purportedly showing two policemen sharing the spoils of a drug bust. His death became a rallying cry for activists behind the January 25 uprising that culminated with Mubarak's ouster on February 11.

The judge, citing the need to "ensure a proper conduct of justice," also ordered a news blackout on the hearings from the next court session until a verdict was reached, witnesses said.

The general prosecutor had charged the two men, police sergeant Awad Suleiman and policeman Mahmoud Salah, with illegally arresting and physically torturing Said, charges that carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Murder charges have not been filed.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has said there was evidence that two plainclothes policemen killed Said and the state had failed to explain signs of beatings on his body.

(Reporting by Abdel Rahman Youssef; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Robert Woodward)