Policeman gets 15 years in jail for killing activist in Egypt

Cairo June 12 (IANS) An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced a policeman to 15 years in prison over the death of a female protester during a leftist march earlier this year, media reported.

The Cairo Criminal Court convicted officer Yassin Hatem of murdering leftist female activist Shaimaa Sabbagh in January, while the police dispersed a small rally of her Popular Alliance Party, Xinhua reported citing MENA news agency.

The young woman was shot dead by cartouche shots as the march was heading to iconic Tahrir Square on the eve of the anniversary of January 25 popular uprising that toppled former ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Sabbagh’s death during a peaceful rally triggered local and international uproar and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ordered an urgent investigation into the incident to hold those responsible accountable.

In mid-March, the prosecution referred the policeman to criminal court over the incident that is believed to be behind the sacking of interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in a recent cabinet reshuffle.

The police have been launching harsh crackdown on Islamists and activists following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in early July 2013, amid fears of the return of police brutality that was a main reason for the 2011 mass protests.

In late May, an Egyptian court acquitted a police officer of torturing a young Islamist man to death when investigating a church blast case in 2011, a few days before the turmoil that toppled Mubarak.

Earlier in April, two policemen were referred to a criminal court over torturing a lawyer to death at a police station in Cairo. Their trial has recently been delayed to late July.

Interior ministry officials always stressed that police violations were “individual acts” and that the police in general were dutiful in serving the people and the nation.

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