The Damanhour Criminal Court concluded Sunday the trial of three police officers on charges of torturing a detainee to death inside the Rashid (Rosetta) police station, in the governorate of Beheira.
The court set 10 December as the date for a verdict to be issued. Suspects include a 24-year-old officer in the ranking of first lieutenant, a 37-year-old conscript and a third 38-year-old officer, who have been imprisoned pending trial.
Al-Haqanya Law Centre, an independent local NGO managed by human rights lawyer Mohamed Abdul Aziz who has undertaken the victim’s representation, has documented the events that led to the death of 32-year-old citizen Al-Sayed Al-Kosbary in police custody.
Outrage had erupted among Al-Kosabry’s family members and relatives since his arrest, and they have repeatedly organised rallies demanding retribution, often clashing with police forces, whether at the police station during his detention, or in front of courts.
According to comments by Abdul Aziz, who spoke to Daily News Egypt from court, Central Security Forces (CSF) troops surrounded the court after news spread that a rally was to be organised in front of the court.
Abdel Aziz warned against police brutality and security threats to the victim’s relatives.
The court has held two sessions over Saturday and Sunday, hearing lawyers from both sides. According to Al-Haqanya’s report of court sessions, the police officers’ defence team argued that “the defendants are victims of a conspiracy by local residents”, adding that the local residents are the ones who assaulted Al-Kosbary during his arrest, leading to his death in the police station.
On the other hand, civil defence lawyers on Al-Kosbary’s side demanded that the defendants be charged according to article 126 of the Penal Code which states that in case of a death resulting from excessive use of force, the defendant faces first degree murder charges, Abdel Aziz said.
The case dates back to last May, when the victim was reported dead as a result of police brutality, after being dragged by the police from his workplace without being informed of his charges, later claimed by the Ministry of Interior to be “possession of weapons and resisting security forces”.
Moreover, a second ‘torture case’ reportedly took place as the details of Al-Kosbary’s case unfolded later on. In mid-July, Al-Haqanya reported that the main witness in the case was beaten by police forces ahead of a testimony hearing scheduled for 4 August.
A police officer and several informers allegedly severely beat Mahmoud Hassan Naga, and dragged him to the police station, after which he lost consciousness and was transported to hospital.
Al-Kosbary was married with four children and owned a car agency in Rashid city. On 1 May, police forces stormed the store to search it.
When Al-Kosbary inquired about a search warrant, two police informants assaulted him. They allegedly punched him in the chest and as he fell on the floor they kicked him in the chest and ribs, and clubbed him in several areas of his bodies, the Al-Haqanya report stated.
Al-Kosbary was then allegedly stripped off his clothes and dragged soaked in his blood to the police car, after which he was taken out several times and beaten again in front of the people.
The Al-Haqanya report said family members who witnessed the events, as the car agency is close to the family house, were also accused of “fabricated charges” of resisting the police.
Taken to Rashid police station, Al-Kosbary, did not receive medical treatment until late in the night, when he was taken to Rashid Hospital, which stated the injuries inflicted on him were by the police force.
A medical report dated 2 May documents Al-Kosbary’s injuries in the arms, legs and knees, in addition to an eye injury.
The next morning, he was shown before the general prosecution, where he accused the police force of beating him and requested that the Forensic Medicine Authority inspect his injuries.
The prosecution did not respond to his request, nor did it investigate the security forces, and Al-Kosbary was taken back to the police station.
From 3 to 5 May, Al-Kosbary was allegedly subjected to another round of beatings and torture until he eventually collapsed and was transported to the hospital on 5 May, but he did not survive to reach it.
Four days after the initial request to be examined by the Forensic Medicine Authority, the prosecution ordered showing Al-Kosbary’s body before the authority.
Abel Aziz said the eyewitness case is separate from this one.