CAIRO/ALEXANDRIA: Hundreds protested in Alexandria Monday to commemorate the death of Khaled Saeid as well as outside the interior ministry headquarters in Cairo calling for an end to police brutality as well as sacking Interior Minister Mansour El-Essawy.
The protests marked the first memorial of 28-year-Saeid allegedly killed by two undercover policemen who apprehended him at an internet café in Cleopatra district, Alexandria.
Hundreds of protesters stood side by side on Stanley Bridge in Alexandria in a silent protest commemorating the death of Saied. The protesters neither held pictures or banners of Saied, they only carried the Egyptian flag.
They then marched to Saeid’s family’s home in Cleopatra. By the time they arrived there, more joined to reach about 1,500. They set a big monitor on the street screening a documentary on Saeid’s case and its development.
“I took part in all protests supporting [Saied’s case] with my four-year-old son ever since the beginning,” activist Ahmed Mekkawy told DNE. “I could’ve been in his shoes.”
Mekkawy said that even though incidents of police brutality decreased following the January 25 Revolution, the interior ministry is still full of corruption and needs to be cleansed.
“An Egyptian’s blood is a red line,” protesters shouted in Cairo. Some held up slogans implying that the ministry is strengthened by thugs.
Others in Cairo held a silent protest on Kasr El-Nil Bridge.
The two policemen in Saeid’s case were referred to the criminal court on charges of cruel treatment, torture and wrongful arrest. The first hearing was held last July. The Alexandria Criminal Court will announce the verdict on June 30.
In the last hearing held on May 21, the legal team representing Saeid’s family reiterated a previous demand to prosecute the defendants on charges of torture to death instead of cruel treatment.
The initial autopsy reports are believed to be riddled with contradictions, with the official report alleging that Saeid asphyxiated on a hashish wrap stuck in his throat and another saying the reason for his suffocation was a pack of marijuana. The two wraps were given different measurements as well.
The lawyers representing Saeid’s family also refuted sacked chief coroner El-Sebaei Ahmed El-Sebaei’s earlier testimony and autopsy report, especially that several complaints had already been filed against him for allegedly covering up evidence in other cases.
A Facebook group launched to draw attention to Saied’s killing is credited for galvanizing support for the mass protests that eventually led to the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak in February.
“The police violations still persist. They don’t realize that the people have dignity,” Ahmed El-Bosaily, an engineer at a protest near the Ministry of Interior, told DNE.
Two alleged cases of torture to death reported recently in Cairo are currently under investigation.
Unlike other protesters, El-Bosaily called for only laying off El-Essawy’s aides.
“The police have the right to enforce the law... [but] we have rights too,” he said.
Another Cairo protester, Abdullah Nour, a student, called for appointing a civilian legal expert as interior minister, not someone with the police background.
Cairo’s protesters also chanted slogans against Defense Minister and Head of the Ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) Field Marshal Hussein Tantawy as well as the military police.
The military police has allegedly committed several violations against protesters and activists over the past three months. –Additional reporting by Heba Fahmy and Marwa Al-A’sar.