Sayed Belal (photo: Al-Ahram)
Egyptian prosecutors on Tuesday began investigating a complaint filed by the brother of Sayed Belal – a young Salafist who died in police custody in early 2011 – against the owner of Alexandria's Zekleh Medical Centre and a state security officer, both of whom are accused of forging the slain man's autopsy report.
Belal was arrested by Egypt's State Security apparatus (since changed to the National Security Agency) and questioned for suspected involvement in the 2011 New Year's Eve bombing of Alexandria's Two Saints Church, in which 23 people were killed and scores injured.
On 12 January 2011, Belal's family received a telephone call from the medical centre to which he had been transferred, informing them of Belal's death. Signs of torture were found on the young man's body, prompting his family to file a lawsuit in which they accused State Security officers of murdering Belal.
According to the slain man's brother, Ibrahim, the medical centre had claimed that Belal had succumbed to an illness, denying that he had been tortured while in police custody.
At a subsequent court hearing, Ibrahim told prosecutors that the owner of the medical centre had carried out a medical examination on his brother after the latter had been "tortured to death by State Security officers."
In the medical report, he added, the owner of the centre had claimed that the slain man had been brought in by two people who had told him that Belal had simply "collapsed on the street."
On 16 April, Osama El-Keneisy, a state security officer, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for torturing Belal to death during interrogation.
In December 2012, El-Keneisy was sentenced in absentia to life in prison. After El-Keneisy subsequently turned himself in, Alexandria's Court of Cassation ordered a retrial to begin on 17 March.
Other officers that had been convicted in the case – including Hossam El-Shennawy, Ahmed Mostafa Kamel and Mohamed El-Shimy – also received harsh sentences for their roles in the young man's death.