CAIRO (Reuters) - Ten policemen in Egypt have been charged with torturing a man to death at a police station in Cairo in November, a judicial source and the victim’s lawyer said on Sunday.
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 in the past year. Anger at police was also major factor in setting off the 2011 uprising that ended President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
Magdy Makain, a middle-aged street vendor died in custody at a police station in Al-Amiriah in Cairo in November. He was taken in after a traffic argument with police but not formally arrested or charged with a criminal offence, according to local media.
Photos purported to be of Makain’s body baring signs torture on his legs and face circulated on social media.
Egypt’s public prosecutor ordered four of the policemen to be kept in custody. They also face charges of forging reports and using force against two other men held with Makain at the police station, the judicial source said.
The six other policemen were released on a 3,000 Egyptian pound ($160) bail.
If found guilty, the men could face the death penalty, said Mohamed Othman, Makain family’s lawyer.
In February, a policeman shot dead a driver in a Cairo street in an argument over a fare, prompting hundreds of people to protest outside the security directorate. In April, a policeman shot three people in a Cairo suburb after an argument over the price of a cup of tea, killing one of them, which also caused a riot.
There were also riots in the northern, Suez Canal city of Ismailia and southern Nile city of Luxor over the authorities’ handling of at least three deaths in police custody in a single week in November last year.
Egyptian security forces have faced further scrutiny over the killing of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni in Cairo this year. Human rights groups say his death bore the hallmarks of torture by Egyptian security services. They deny involvement.
Reporting Haitham Ahmed; Writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Ahmed Aboulenein and Raissa Kasolowsky