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One month salary fine for Egyptian policeman convicted of torture sparks criticism

A variety of public commentators were shocked at what they saw as inadequate punishment issued by a police court

Ahram Online , Saturday 27 Jun 2015
Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar
Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Views: 2573
Views: 2573

A police court verdict that fined a policeman convicted of torture but failed to apply any other sanctions has triggered outrage from a number of quarters in Egypt.

The chief of a Mahalla police station, Yasser Shousha, was convicted of applying electric shocks to a detainee in a police station in February 2014.

In January 2015, the ministry of interior referred Shousha to a disciplinary council.

Shousha was later tried as a public employee in front of an internal police court.  On Friday, he was found guilty of the crime and fined a one month salary.

Commentators on social media expressed anger at the ruling, arguing the verdict shows that police treat torture as simply an administrative violation rather than a crime.

Columnist Wael Abdel-Fattah wondered on his official Twitter account whether the interior minister was actually aware that torture is a crime. Leftist activist and blogger Hossam El-Hamalawy questioned why the policeman was allowed to continue in his post.

Ahmed Sayed El-Naggar, economist and CEO of Ahram, criticised the sentence on his official Facebook page. 

"Humiliating ordinary citizens and crushing their humanity without the perpetrators facing punishment, or facing only comic sanctions, whether in police stations or checkpoints will build-up discontent, and only God can predict the consequence of that."

Torture is forbidden by Egypt's 2014 constitution. Article 52 state that "torture in all its forms is a crime without a statute of limitations."

However, torture by security forces has been frequently reported over the years, and there have been several recent allegations of deaths from torture.

In the infamous case of Khaled Said, an Alexandrian man whose death at the hands of police in 2010 triggered a wave of public anger and protests that helped pave the way to the 2011 revolution, two policemen were sentenced to ten years in prison.

The Said verdict is a rare court indictment of police officers accused of brutality. Most such cases do not reach court, or result in acquittals for the security personnel involved.

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