Four Egyptian police officers detained over Luxor torture case
Egyptian Riot policemen fire tear gas towards supporters during a demonstration of Muslim Brotherhood on November 29, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. (AFP/Mahmoud Khaled)
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Luxor's general prosecutor ordered Friday the detention of four police officers pending investigation, on charges of torturing Talaat Shabib to death at the Luxor police station.
The officers are to be detained for four days.
The decision came "following the release of the forensic report, which confirmed the existence of injury to the man's body, which led to his death," the state-owned MENA news agency said.
The forensic report, released Thursday evening, stated that: "the dead man suffered a blow to the neck and the back, resulting in a cut in the spinal cord and his death."
Police arrested Shabib, 47, on Tuesday at a cafe at 11 pm in the al-Amawya district, on suspicion of possessing Tramadol, a pain killer used ubiquitously as a recreational drug in Egypt. He was allegedly killed of torture inside the police station, two hours after his arrest.
Sources in Luxor told Aswat Masriya that his family received information two hours later (1 am on Wednesday) that Shabib died on his way to Luxor International Hospital, triggering protests in front of the police station against what they believe was the killing and torture of Shabib by police.
Security forces dispersed the protest using tear gas and arrested 24 people, who were released Thursday morning, state run MENA news agency reported.
Luxor's prosecurtor Ahmed Abdel Rahman said Thursday that an extensive investigation is underway and that the prosecution is not biased, noting that the "forensics report will prove whether or not the citizen was subjected to torture before his death."
He added that in case allegations of torture are confirmed, those responsible will be held accountable for their actions.
According to news reports quoting Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Wali last September, Tramadol is ranked first among illicit drugs abused in Egypt, taken by 40.7 percent of drug abusers.
While the government has restricted the drug's sale, enforcing prison sentences on pharmacists caught dealing illicitly in the prescription drug, enforcement is poor. The little pill is still easy to get, despite the price hike.
In 2012, the Health Ministry added Tramadol to a list of abused substances banned under Egypt's anti-drug law. The decision was endorsed by a State Council ruling in November 2013, according to a report published by state-run Al-Ahram newspaper.
Police brutality was one of the triggers of the Jan. 25, 2011 uprising, sparked by protests on Police Day in Egypt aimed to draw attention to the police's use of excessive, at times fatal, force.
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