CAIRO (Reuters) - The politician son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said that any wrongdoers should be held to account over the death of an activist which has sparked protests after allegations of police brutality.
The remarks by Gamal Mubarak, 46, a senior member of the ruling party and seen by many as a possible future president, suggest the authorities want to contain public anger before parliamentary elections this year and a presidential vote in 2011.
The case of Khaled Said, who had posted an Internet video purportedly showing two policemen sharing the spoils of a drug bust before he died, has prompted anti-government demonstrations and raised concerns among Egypt’s U.S. and European allies.
“Justice must take its course ... and this applies to the case of the death of Egyptian citizen Khaled Said in Alexandria, especially after the prosecutor-general referred the accused to court,” Gamal Mubarak said in remarks published in newspapers.
Thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets since Said’s death in June to demand an end to police brutality and to call for an end to emergency law, which they say gives police impunity.
Another protest is planned for Friday and a Facebook memorial page “We are Khaled Said” has drawn almost 174,000 members.
President Mubarak, 82, has not said if he will run again but many people believe Gamal is being groomed for the job. Mohamed ElBaradei, a former head of the U.N. nuclear agency, has said he might also run for president next year.
Rights groups say Said, 28, was beaten to death outside an Internet cafe after he posted his video while according to official autopsies he died by choking on a roll of drugs. Two policemen were investigated on charges of beating him and now face trial.
“The party insists on the accountability of any wrongdoer within the framework of justice, transparency and the rule of law,” said the president’s son, adding that “respect for human rights and the fight against corruption” were party priorities.
Gamal Mubarak, who heads the National Democratic Party’s policy committee, guided the ruling party’s parliamentary election campaign in 2005 when it swept most seats. Rights groups cited abuses.
“The timing of the statement is crucial since the lack of official responses to this incident would only harm the image of the party in upcoming elections,” said Nabil Abdel Fattah at the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.
Hala Mustafa, analyst and ruling party member, said: “This statement is the first of its kind and signals that mounting pressure and political awareness in Egypt have reached a new level capable of pushing the political reform process forward.”