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Egypt prosecutors release policeman suspected in fish vendor's death on bail

Defence lawyers and prosecutors wait for autopsy report in the death of Magdy Makeen whose family says was tortured by officers

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Thursday 24 Nov 2016
Minya Bishop Makarious at Makeen's house to extend condolences to his family (Photo: Ahram Arabic news website)

Egyptian prosecutors on Thursday ordered the release of a policeman suspected in the death of fish cart vendor Magdy Makeen in police custody pending investigations.

Yasser Hassan, released on EGP 1000 bail, was the last of nine policemen questioned in the case and released pending investigation. 

The eight other suspects were released on Wednesday.

According to Makeen's family's account, the 53 year-old, was arrested last Sunday after a brawl with a policeman then beaten and tortured to death while in custody at a police station in Cairo's working-class neighborhood of El-Ameriyah.

Videos of a Makeen bruised and bloodied corpse later surfaced on social media. 

Mohamed Osman, Makeen's lawyer, said on Thursday the policeman was released pending probe into charges of "the use of brutality and torture" against the two men arrested with Makeen after forensic medicine report proved they were beaten and injured.

Interior ministry spokesperson Tarek Attiya has denied that Makeen was tortured, saying that he died from diabetes-related complications after his arrest. 

A judicial source had said last week that Makeen was arrested for possession of drugs. 

Osman said that no charges of murder will be brought by prosecutors until a forensic medicine report is issued to determine whether the vendor's death was due to "natural or criminal" causes.

Forensic Medicine Authority Chief Hisham Abdel-Hamid said earlier this week it would take the authority two to three weeks to determine the cause of the vendor's death.

The policemen denied during investigations that they physically assaulted Makeen or his companions, Osman said.

Days following Makeen's death, another police officer was sentenced to life in prison for killing a street vendor earlier this year during an altercation over the price of a cup of tea. The incident sparked anger at the time against police violations.

The interior ministry has stated that such violations represent isolated incidents, while critics believe that policemen act with impunity against some citizens.

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