Egypt prosecutors referred Thursday four police officers and five lower-ranking policemen to the criminal court on charges of torturing to death a man in police custody in Upper Egypt's Luxor.
The prosecution had ordered the suspects' detention pending investigation after medical examiners issued a report showing that the victim suffered fractures in the neck and back.
Talaat Shabeeb, 47, was detained at El-Awameya Police Station last week on charges of drug possession. His family was later informed that he had died and his body was brought to Luxor International Hospital.
Shabeeb's family claims that he was in fact arrested over a personal dispute with a policeman, and not for drug possession as initially claimed.
Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Luxor last week to protest Shabeeb’s death and demand that the head of the police station be fired.
Shabeeb’s case is the third high-profile incident in Egypt involving allegations of police abuse in the last two weeks, with the latest involving an Ismailiya policeman who is accused of torturing a man to death while in police custody. The Ministry of Interior has suspended the officer pending investigation.
Human rights organisations have repeatedly condemned what they describe as "widespread torture" by Egyptian police, while the interior ministry says that "no leniency" is shown to policemen engaging in torture.