Egyptian policeman who killed a man and caused a riot over a cup of tea gets life imprisonment
Police brutality in Egypt (Flickr)
An Egyptian police officer has been sentenced to life in prison this afternoon for shooting three people, and killing one of them, over the price of a cup of tea. The incident happened in East Cairo last April, when the policeman, Zaynham Abd al-Razaq got into an argument, having refused to pay for the drink. The altercation ended in the murder of the young tea seller with a bullet from a government-issued gun. The policeman then fled the scene.
The East Cairo Criminal Court found Abd al-Razaq guilty of one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder, and sentenced him to 25 years in prison, which is the life sentence in the country.
The result is unusual in a country where rights activists complain that police violence often goes unchallenged. Alleged police impunity in the country was a major reason for the 2011 uprising, which overthrew President Hosni Mubarak. In April, the policeman Abd al-Razaq’s actions caused locals to gather to protest, destroying his police vehicle and attacking his colleague in anger against the killing of the young man.
A previous case in which a police officer had murdered 24-year-old taxi driver over a disputed fare had resulted in the same sentence. ِA mob attacked the low-ranking officer Mustafa Mahmood Abd al-Hassan after he shot the young man from an impoverished neighborhood in the head following a heated exchange. This incident pushed President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to introduce new laws in February to guarantee police accountability. The laws were intended to prosecute police officers who assaulted civilians.
Sisi said of the incident that "this shows that members of the police are now out of control. It's become easy for officers to use their weapons in the most unnecessary situations," Al Jazeera reported earlier this year.
It is not yet clear whether the new legislation has reduced police brutality in the country, however this most recent prosecution suggests that officers are being forced to take responsibility for their actions.
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