I think by now you might have heard of Khaled Said. The Alexandrian 28 years old who died minutes after two secret policemen approached him in an internet café sparking outrage after a photo following the autopsy was published on the internet. Two blurry photographs of a bloody disfigured head.
What happened exactly is still under investigation by the prosecution. Witnesses say he was beaten by the two secret policemen. They say they did this so violently, that they smashed his head into a marble shelf in the internet café or into an iron door outside the café or marble stairs in an entrance of the nearby building or all of the aforementioned. They add that he cried for help and said he was dying.
The police, including the ministry of interior, claim that upon seeing the two secret policemen he swallowed a small wrap of hash which made him choke and die. They say they didn't hit him. And the two policemen say he fell from the ambulance stretcher, which caused the few superficial post-mortem injuries.
The reason they approached him was first circulated that it was part of a routine ID checking and he refused to show them his ID. Another reason, we were told, that he had a video exposing the police distributing hashish among themselves. I heard the family denied that this was true today in a press conference.
The minister of interior was quick to inform us that Khaled was a suspect/convict/drug addict. A nasty guy who people shouldn't give too much attention about anyway. Kalb we mat.
Instead, people were incredibly angry. Facebook was full to the brim with all forms of digital campaigning and solidarity.
A small group of brave protesters decided to swiftly protest at night in front of the Sidi Gaber police station, where the secret policemen work and allegedly police officers helped in covering up the crime. They were quickly rounded up and charged with a list of charges from threatening public order to an attempt to break into a government building.
One of the protesters Hassan Mostafa was given a 6 month sentence for this protest. I think he is probably out now on bail and will appeal.
More protests sprang up everywhere. One following a Friday prayer in Alexandria. Then another two at the same time, one in Cairo a hundred meter from the ministry of interior and a one in Alex near Khaled's house.
Protests calling for the minister of interior to fuck off. Again.
The one in Cairo was met with cordons, ID checks, violence, arrests and kettling. The largest group of protesters were surrounded by central security forces who were then pushed every few minutes by officers from the back to crush a group of 80-100 protesters. This went on for four hours till everyone was dead tired.
More protests are being organised, with different participants and in new ways. One happened concurrently in Cairo and Alexandria were protesters wore black stood in front of the Nile and the Mediterranean and read the Quran or prayed. Odd but different and a form of displaying discontent and solidarity.
Meanwhile, the forensic report that came out few days after the incident (which says the cause of death was from asphyxiation) created enough objections that the public prosecutor had to order the body to be exhumed and examined again. The objections to the report were mainly because it agreed almost entirely with what the ministry of interior insists upon.
Technically the report is very weak. It lists the 'classic' non-specific signs of asphyxia which is no longer sufficient to diagnose death primarily from asphyxia. It also lists injuries to the face and head without investigating the brain properly.
Unfortunately, the body after 4 or 5 days in this heat have probably disintegrated considerably for much to be seen. Also the second autopsy was done on the spot, in the cemetery. Which is probably not a best-practice.
Currently, everyone is waiting for the second report. Which will be out on Tuesday. According to the Al-Ahram, if the second autopsy showed signs of ante-mortem injuries -- even if they weren't the cause of death-- the case will go to court. If not, the inquiry will end.
A big case like this one needs to go to court. We are not waiting for quick answers. A proper trial that is as far from government influence as possible is a must.
With torture being a source of power for the ruling regime and thus systematic and exemption from punishment is guaranteed to every member of the police force, our own lives are at risk. It isn't new and this won't be the last case. Khaled Said's death made many people realise this.