Orders to arrest 12 Alex police officers for murder

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CAIRO: The prosecutor in Egypt’s second city Alexandria ordered on Saturday the arrest of 12 police officers accused of torturing to death a suspect in a deadly New Year’s church attack, a judicial official said.

Adel Emara ordered the arrest of the officers, who allegedly killed Sayed Belal, a Salafi who was arrested a week after a bombing attack that killed more than 20 people.

Belal’s bruised body was handed to his family the day after he was arrested, rights groups said at the time.

The attack, which took place three weeks before the outbreak of a popular uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak, was blamed on the Palestinian Army of Islam, which has links to Al-Qaeda.

Around 40 people were arrested in connection with the bombing, but no one has been brought to trial, and the suspects are thought to have escaped from prison during the chaotic times surrounding the uprising, a security official said.

Routine police torture under the Mubarak regime was a driving force behind the uprising that toppled the veteran strongman in February.

On January 1, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Al-Qiddissin church in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria as worshippers emerged from a New Year’s Eve mass.

Egypt’s Christians, who make up 10 percent of the 80-million population, have been the target of numerous attacks over the years.


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