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Egypt police get 10 years for beating man to death

CAIRO (AP) – A court on Monday sentenced two policemen to 10 years in prison each for the 2010 beating to death of a young Egyptian that was one of the sparks that led to the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak the following year.

The sentencing was the result of a retrial in the landmark case of the killing of 28-year-old Khaled Said, a small businessman in the port city of Alexandria.

Photographs of the dead Said’s severely beaten face were posted on the Internet and became a rallying cry against rampant police brutality under Mubarak.

The two low-ranking policemen _ Awad Suliman and Mahmoud Salah _ had previously been convicted and handed sentences of seven years but that conviction was later overturned and a new trial was ordered.

Authorities had denied Said was tortured to death, with successive forensic reports and official statements claiming the 28-year old man had choked on a packet of drugs he swallowed to hide it from the approaching policemen.

Said’s sister Zahraa wrote on her Facebook page that the sentences vindicated her brother, as they affirmed he died under torture and not from suffocation from swallowing drugs.

“The 10-year sentences for the killers of Khaled Said are on charges of the torture that led to his death, and not like they used to say that he swallowed a packet,” She wrote. “We were expecting the maximum penalty (the death sentence) to be levied on the killers. But victory comes only from God.”

Activists had used a Facebook page set up in Said’s memory to call for the protests that ultimately forced Mubarak from power in February 2011.

The verdict may still be appealed.

In a separate development, prosecutors released the son of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi _ Mubarak’s successor _ after he agreed to give samples for a drug test. According to the state MENA news agency, 20-year-old university freshman Abdullah Morsi was freed late Sunday after agreeing to give blood and urine samples for the test.

The young Morsi was detained on Saturday on suspicion of drug possession. He was with a friend in a parked car that was searched by a police patrol east of Cairo. Officers reportedly found two rolled hashish cigarettes in the vehicle.

Abdullah’s older brother, Osama, had rejected the accusations, calling them fabricated.

Morsi was ousted in July last year by the military and faces a multitude of trials on charges that carry the death penalty. He was in office for a year when he was removed by military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Mubarak himself faces two trials: a retrial over the killing of hundreds of protesters during the uprising that toppled his 29-year rule and a second one, on charges that he and his two sons took for personal use state funds set aside for the upkeep and maintenance of presidential palaces.

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