Egyptian court ruling over Khaled Saeed murder is a reminder of the systematic bias of the police

Nearly 12 years after the murder of the young Khaled Saeed, who was tortured to death by members of the Egyptian police which ignited the angry demonstrations starting the revolution of January 25, 2011, an Egyptian court ruled that a secretary, a police sergeant, and the Minister of Interior pay a sum of EGP one million to Said’s family, in compensation for the moral and material damages they suffered.

Khaled died on June 6, 2010, after he was beaten and tortured by two security personnel working at the Sidi Gaber police station in Alexandria, days after he had broadcast a video on the internet that showed two policemen sharing a quantity of seized drugs.

The killers arrested Said while he was sitting in an internet cafe in Alexandria, then dragged him to the entrance of a residential building and severely beat him. They hit his head on the edge of a marble staircase several times until he lost consciousness. They stuffed a bag of hashish into his mouth which caused him to suffocate and eventually die.

Horrific pictures of Khaled’s body spread with visible signs of beatings, wounds, and bruises, which led to great anger in the Egyptian street, especially among young people concerned with the situation in the country and with human rights.

The regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak colluded with the killers, and an official account emerged that the two policemen suspected Saeed of possessing a packet of narcotics, and when they tried to catch him, he swallowed it and he suffocated and died. The Ministry of Interior claimed that Khaled is a well-known convict and that he has been convicted in three criminal cases, which was later proven to be incorrect.

The complicit forensic medicine department issued a report in support of the Interior Ministry’s story, where it confirmed that the death occurred because of obstruction of the airways with a plastic wrap containing the drug hashish, and that the injuries and wounds on his body and head “may have occurred as a result of beatings while trying to control the victim.”

The forensic report, which was later proven to be a forgery, added that “the analysis of Saeed’s bowels revealed the presence of tramadol, as well as the discovery of hashish remnants. As for the published picture of the body, it was taken after the autopsy was completed.”

Egyptian society knows very well the severity of policemen’s cruelty and their lack of commitment to the laws, so many angry demonstrations took place demanding that the killers be tried. Several activists launched the “We are all Khaled Saeed” page on Facebook, which attracted the attention of tens of thousands of people.

Within a few days, it was the first to launch the call to demonstrate on Police Day, January 25, 2011, to protest the violations of the Ministry of Interior, a call that turned into the revolution that toppled the Mubarak regime.

Following the glorious January 25 revolution, which celebrates its 11th anniversary this month, the two murderous security men were tried on charges of “unlawfully arresting a person and using cruelty and physical torture,” and they were not charged with murder. The trial ended with a 10-year hard labour prison sentence.

In March 2018, on behalf of Khaled Saeed’s mother, brother and sister, lawyers working for the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights filed a compensation suit, demanding that the two defendants and the Minister of Interior jointly pay EGP two million. Last Thursday a judgement was passed that they should pay EGP one million only to Saeed’s brother and sister, after their mother passed away.

The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights announced that its legal team intends to appeal the ruling, to increase the amount so that it is “commensurate with the severity of the damage caused to the martyr’s family.”

A wound that does not heal

Twelve years have passed, and the case of the martyr Khaled Saeed continues to be a deep wound in the heart that does not heal. Dozens, or even hundreds, of others have been killed by the Egyptian regime and its security forces, whether by physical torture to death, as happened with the young Muhammad Abdel Hakim, known as Afroto, and Magdy Makin, or by depriving them of their rights to medical care in prisons, which leads to their death, such as what happened with former President Mohamed Morsi, and the leader of the Brotherhood, Essam El-Erian.

Every day that passes without the reality changing is another day when Khaled Saeed’s wound does not heal.