Police referred to criminal court on charges of torturing cart driver to death in 2016

A police officer and nine non-commissioned policemen were referred to criminal court by the West Cairo prosecutor’s office on Monday on charges of torturing to death Magdy Makeen, a donkey cart driver, in a police station nearly three years ago, according to Ali al-Halawani, the lawyer for Makeen’s family.

The prosecution charged Karim Magdy, a police officer at the Amereya police station in eastern Cairo, and nine non-commissioned police officers with “torturing the victim to death, deliberately inflicting harm in the course of their work, causing the injuries mentioned in the forensic medical report on Magdy Makeen and his companions and falsifying the arrest report of Magdy Makeen and his colleagues,” according to Halawani.

The referral of police officers to trial on torture charges as opposed to a charge of “beating leading to death” is rare, Halawani said. He attributed the move to the forensic autopsy report, which concluded in no uncertain terms that Makeen was tortured. 

“The [report] was not manipulated, as has happened in other cases in the past, such as the case of Khaled Said, in which the forensic report concluded that he died from suffocation after he swallowed a joint,” Halawani said.

Makeen’s forensic report concluded that he was “tortured, resulting in neurological trauma in the nerves of the spinal cord, which led to clots in the lungs leading to death.”

Makeen died in the Amereya police station in November 2016. Makeen’s nephew, Hany Girguis, told Mada Masr at the time that his uncle was running a work errand with two other young men, Mohsen Zaky and Mahmoud al-Araby, when their cart hit a police truck full of security forces. The truck chased the cart and overturned it, then policemen beat the three men. Makeen was then dragged through the streets for some distance before the three men were taken to the police station, where the abuse continued.

After the incident, the Interior Ministry’s spokesperson Tarek Ateya denied Makeen had died as a result of torture in press remarks, asserting that the cart driver died due to extremely low blood pressure, and was arrested with two others in possession of 2,000 Tramadol pills.

Police torture is endemic in Egypt, with numerous cases reported every month. Human rights organizations have criticized the state’s reluctance to institute widespread reforms, although police personnel have occasionally been convicted of what the ministry claims are isolated offenses.

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