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Egyptians unhappy with lenient sentence for Khaled Said's killers

The two policemen who beat Khaled Said to death and planted evidence on his body, helping fuel Egypt's revolution, each received seven-year sentences for manslaughter.

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Policemen Awad Ismail (c.) and Amin Mahmoud Salah (r.) defendants in the beating death of Khaled Said, stand trial in a courtroom in Alexandria, Egypt, on Sept. 24.

Tarek Fawzy/AP

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A lenient prison sentence for the killers of a man whose death helped spark Egypt’s revolution has outraged Egyptians, who had hoped their uprising would wipe out the corruption and injustice symbolized by the case.

An Alexandria judge Wednesday found two policemen guilty of beating Khaled Said to death, said a lawyer in the case, and sentenced them to seven years in prison, the maximum sentence for manslaughter. The judge’s failure to bring harsher charges against the policemen left Egyptians bitter and disillusioned after hopes were raised recently that the case would be treated justly.

Egyptian activists, already embittered by a long string of disappointments and increasing repression by Egypt’s military, took the news badly. But while activists have become increasingly isolated from much of the population, which does not seem to share their virulent opposition to the military, Wednesday’s news united Egyptians in anger.

“They should have been given the death sentence,” says Hassan Ahmed, a doorman who lives in Cairo’s downtown district and does not care for politics or activism. “This is not the justice we demanded in [Cairo's Tahrir Square]. Did we make a revolution, or not?”

Hafez Abu Saeda, a lawyer for Mr. Said’s family, said the family has authorized him to appeal to Egypt’s attorney general to overturn the verdict and sentence. The policemen should be charged with torturing Said to death, he says, which carries a sentence of 25 years imprisonment to the death penalty. Such charges are required by Egypt’s commitment to international conventions against torture, he said.

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