Luxor Criminal Court convicted First Lieutenant Hani Samir and five low-ranking officers on Tuesday of manslaughter in connection to the death of detainee Talaat Shabeeb in Luxor Police Station.
Samir was sentenced to a seven-year term, while the five officers were given three years, all of which will be served in a maximum-security prison. The court also mandated that the Interior Ministry pay LE1.5 million in compensation to Shabeeb’s widow. Three other officers and four low-ranking soldiers who were also standing in the trial were acquitted.
When Shabeeb was arrested in November 2015, he was taken to Luxor Police Station, where he was allegedly assaulted by police officers. A December autopsy report indicated that he died from a severe beating to his neck and back that broke his vertebrae and ultimately cut his spinal cord.
During the trial, lawyer Khaled Ali, who represented Shabeeb’s family, refuted officers’ allegations that Shabeeb was in possession of drugs at the time of his arrest, stating that the claims are unsubstantiated beyond the testimonies of the officers that killed the man.
Ali told Mada Masr that the court’s sentence was the maximum penalty that could be issued given the prosecutor’s decision to charge the men with manslaughter. However, Ali and other lawyers had requested that the court consider the additional charges of excessive force and torture, which would have carried a maximum sentence of death.
Ali expects the convicted officers to appeal the verdict but said that they would remain detained until a final verdict is issued. While Ali was pleased with the court’s decision, the victim’s family were left unsatisfied. Shabeeb’s cousin, Hamada al-Rashidi told Mada Masr: “We are not pleased at all that the rest of the defendants were acquitted. Everyone knows they participated in the torture and killing.”
The decision to appeal the acquittal of the other defendants rests with Shabeeb’s family, according to Ali. However, he stated that the officers that were acquitted were seen arresting and assaulting Shabeeb in the street, but there is no evidence that they participated in the assault that led to his death inside the prison.
Shabeeb’s death caused a wave of anger to spread over his hometown of Awamiya in Egypt’s Luxor Governorate. Following his death, hundreds of protesters conducted marches to demand justice.
Tuesday’s verdict is one in a recent series of trials where police officers have been prosecuted for killing detainees, a phenomenon that has increased in recent years.
There are several ongoing trials involving detainees deaths. In Cairo, a judge recently renewed the detention of three police officers from the Waili Police Station pending investigation into the case of a detainee who died after being assaulted, and Giza Criminal Court is currently presiding over the trial of 12 police officers accused of killing a detainee, Saad Saeed, in Giza Police Station.
In December, the Damanhour Criminal Court sentenced First Lieutenant Mohamed Atef Basiouny to five years in prison for torturing and killing detainee Al-Sayed al-Kasbary.