Beating death of Egyptian businessman Khalid Said spotlights police brutality
Aida Seif El Dawla, head of the El Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, says Said’s case is “flagrant,” but not unusual. Dr. Dawla says that the number of torture and brutality cases documented by the Nadim Center has risen in the past few years.
“People are getting angrier, and this is the only thing that maintains the stability of the regime,” she says. “Stories like this are meant to terrorize the victims and the people around the victims. And this is how the regime is ruling – by terror.”
Said was reportedly targeted because he intended to make public a video that allegedly shows police officers dividing the spoils of a drug bust. Graphic pictures of the injuries that killed Said, coupled with the public nature of his beating death and the fact that he was an affable, middle-class man, have propelled his tragic case to prominence, largely through posts on social-networking sites and blogs.
Egypt is investigating the death, and the prosecutor general Tuesday ordered a new autopsy of Said, supervised by independent forensic experts, in response to the local and international uproar over the killing. The government’s first official autopsy report claimed that Said died from asphyxiation after swallowing a plastic bag of narcotics when he was approached by police. Said’s family and witnesses at the Internet cafe where police apprehended him tell a different story, saying police began the abuse in the cafe, then dragged him outside, where they beat him to death.