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Egypt police face trial for doctors' assault

19 May 2016, 10:01

Cairo - Egyptian prosecutors on Wednesday referred nine policemen to trial for allegedly using violence against two doctors at a public hospital when they refused to falsify a medical report, officials said.

January's incident in Cairo's northern district of Matareya caused a major backlash, with thousands of doctors later demonstrating outside their union headquarters in the city.

The trial will open Tuesday with the policemen being charged with the use of violence and verbally assaulting the doctors in the January 28 incident, two prosecution officials said.

Egypt's police have been on the defensive as rights groups denounce a rise in torture and deaths in custody since late 2015, as well as arbitrary arrests and "disappearances" of government opponents.

The alleged abuses are reminiscent to many of police behaviour under the rule of president Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down after a January 2011 uprising fuelled by public outrage over security forces abuses.

In February, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for police who make mistakes to "immediately" be held responsible, and said he would ask parliament to toughen laws against such abuses.

In April, a policeman shot dead a Cairo street vendor in an argument over the price of a cup of tea, prompting a protest by dozens of bystanders chanting: "The police are thugs."

After pictures from the scene spread on social media and with two passers-by wounded, prosecutors said they would refer the policeman to trial for murder and attempted murder.

In February, a court sentenced a policeman to eight years in prison on charges of beating a veterinary surgeon to death while in custody in the northeastern town of Ismailiya.

Another policeman was given a life sentence in April for shooting dead a driver with his official firearm in an argument over the price of transporting goods. That incident also sparked protests in Cairo.



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