Prosecutor General Hesham Barakat referred a Central Security Forces police officer to criminal prosecution after he was charged with “beating to death” activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, state television reported on Tuesday.
Sabbagh was killed during a peaceful march in downtown Cairo on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the January 25 Revolution.
Since the officer was referred to trial for “beating leading to death,” he could be found innocent on procedural grounds, Yasmine Hossam al-Din, a lawyer following the investigations into Sabbagh’s death, told Mada Masr.
Hossam al-Din explained, “this charge is inconsistent with the technical evidence and the autopsy report, which show that Sabbagh was killed by a direct gunshot wound and was not beaten.”
The New York based Human Rights watch released a report following Sabbagh’s death, in which they used video evidence along with four eyewitness testimonies to reconstruct events.
According to HRW, “the evidence clearly shows a uniformed police officer apparently directing a masked man, who fires a shotgun toward a group of about two dozen peaceful protesters whom police were dispersing from Talaat Harb Square. Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, 32, is seen immediately falling to the ground following the shot. She died later from what medical authorities described as ‘Birdshot injuries’.”
The Forensic Medical Authority released an autopsy report showing that she was killed by Birdshot, sustaining wounds in the back that punctured her lungs and heart.
Hossam al-Din said, “there should have been two options: either he should have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and in that case it should be proven that the officer hit the victim without targeting her, or he should have been charged with murder with intent and then evidence should show he targeted her deliberately.”
Sabbagh’s death sparked outrage and hundreds attended her funeral in Alexandria and chanted against the regime, military rule and the police during the funeral procession.
State TV simultaneously announced that the prosecutor general’s investigations into the death of Mohamed al-Guindi, 28, showed that he died due to injuries from a car accident and not due to torture.
Guindi died on February 4, 2013, after he was arrested following protests in Tahrir Square on January 27, 2013. According to a report by the Guardian, activists alleged Guindy went into a coma after police officers strangled him with a cord and beat him until his ribs and jaw cracked. The police officers then allegedly dropped him at a hospital on January 31. However, medical records from the hospital stated his death was the result of injuries from a car crash.