Cairo-Alexandria routes reopened after morning protest blockages

The railway and agricultural road routes between Cairo and Alexandria were reopened Thursday afternoon, after being completely blocked earlier in the morning by hundreds of citizens protesting the death of a detainee at a police station.

The routes opened up after police forces convinced protesters to leave.

A police source said that about 1,000 people had gathered around the Sharqawia railroad crossing in Shubra al-Khaima, which is part of Qalyubiya Governorate.

According to the source, the dead man, only identified as Sameh, was arrested on a warrant from the Public Prosecution, along with another defendant named Ramadan. The source said they were in possession of hashish and bladed weapons. The source also said Sameh had previously faced criminal accusations, but did not provide evidence of this.

The source added that while the two defendants were in the investigation unit at the police department before being referred to the public prosecutor, Sameh fell into a state of fatigue and then suddenly slipped into a coma.

According to the security source, Sameh was taken to Nasser Institute Hospital but was dead on arrival. He said hospital staff tried to restart Sameh's heart but it did not respond.

The source said the family of the dead detainee “claimed he was tortured to death, although when asking the defendant who was accompanying him and the lawyer who attended the investigation, they support what the medical report says, that he was not subjected to any torture.”

For years, human rights advocates have accused Egyptian police of inhuman treatment in prisons, police stations and detention facilities.

No members of the victim's family or protesters were interviewed for this story.

The prosecution ordered Sameh's body be kept at the hospital so a forensic physician can conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Qalyubiya police leaders had visited the village of Sharqawia to try to persuade residents to reopen the routes, as the blockage completely paralyzed railway and road traffic.

The Egyptian Railways Authority called on citizens not to block railway lines, since it said the protests disrupt citizens' interests and confuse train routes, which costs the authority enormous financial losses.

In a press statement issued on Thursday, the authority said railway movement in Lower Egypt has been disrupted because of the incident.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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