Egyptian officer convicted of torture, murder sees sentence reduced to 3 years

Ayat Al Tawy , El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Monday 28 Mar 2016

Police officer Osama El-Kounayassi was previously sentenced to 15 years in jail for torturing to death detained suspect Sayed Belal

Sayed Belal
Sayed Belal (Photo: Al-Ahram )

An Alexandria court sentenced on Sunday a police officer to three years in prison for torturing Salafist Sayed Belal to death, a ruling that marks a significant reduction in the officer’s previous prison sentence.

Osama El-Kounayassi of the notorious state security investigations department was sentenced in April 2013 to 15 years in prison on charges including torture leading to death after the officer attempted to extract confessions from Belal, whom police accused of helping to plot a 2011 suicide bombing at a Coptic Christian church in the port city of Alexandria. 

El-Kounayassi won a retrial on appeal, and the most recent verdict may also be appealed in front of Egypt’s Court of Cassation.

El-Kounayassi has been out of prison since May 2015, when he was released after spending the maximum allowed time in detention while his second retrial was still ongoing.

He had previously been convicted in absentia in this case and was handed a life sentence, but was automatically granted a retrial upon turning himself in.

The first retrial resulted in the 15-year sentence, which he successfully appealed.

He is the last defendant in this case, which sparked public outrage over police brutality shortly before the 2011 revolution.

Four other police officers  of the now disbanded state security department were eventually acquitted in the case after initially receiving sentences of life in prison.

The charges against the defendants included "murder, unlawful detention, torture to extract confessions, and indecent assault," lawyers had said.

Belal, one of seven victims in this case, was arrested along with other suspects after a bombing on 1 January 2011 killed 21 worshippers at a church in Alexandria.

Dozens of Islamists were arrested following the New Year's attack. 

Police brutality was among the main grievances that galvanised public anger and led to the popular revolt that ousted long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak in early 2011.

The death of Khaled Said, also from Alexandria, who was tortured to death by two police officers in June 2010, became a rallying call for the uprising.

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