Egypt's interior minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar ordered on Monday the transfer of four policemen accused of torturing a man to death in Luxor earlier this week.
The policemen, who hold different ranks, were transferred to different directorates in other governorates until investigations are over. One officer facing the same accusations had been transferred on Saturday.
On Friday, hundreds marched across Luxor to protest the death of Talaat Shabeeb, with demonstrators chanting anti-police slogans and demanding the dismissal of the head of the El-Awameya police station where the victim was being held.
The prosecutor-general has opened an investigation into the case and the forensic authority has been tasked with determining the cause of death.
Security officials had said on Wednesday that the 47-year-old Shabeeb, a father of four, was arrested at a local El-Awameya café for the illegal possession of prescription painkillers, and had later fallen ill before being taken to Luxor International Hospital where he died.
Shabeeb's family, however, claims that Shabeeb was in fact arrested over a personal dispute with a policeman, and not for drug possession. The family also claims that Shabeeb died at the police station, not the hospital, half an hour after his arrest.
Egypt’s interior ministry has said that it will not display any leniency regarding instances of torture among law enforcement, and described such cases as “isolated incidents.”
Shabeeb’s case is the third in Egypt involving allegations of police abuse over the past week, with the latest involving an Ismailiya policeman who is accused of torturing a man to death while he was in police custody.
On Thursday, another police officer was detained in Greater Cairo for four days pending an investigation into allegations of assault and abuse of power. The officer is being accused of assaulting a bus driver in the satellite city of 6 October over a traffic dispute, as well as conducting a false arrest and filing a false police report accusing the driver of illicit drug possession.
Torture is forbidden by Egypt's 2014 constitution, with Article 52 stating that "torture in all its forms is a crime without a statute of limitations." However, local and international rights group have said that torture by security forces remains prevalent in Egypt.