Five policemen sentenced to prison for Sayed Bilal murder

Alexandria Criminal Court sentenced four fugitive police officers to life imprisonment (25 years) and another defendant to 15 years for the murder of Sayed Bilal.

Alexandria Criminal Court said in its ruling Thursday that the four officers were tried in absentia. The fifth defendant, Major Mohamed Abdul Rahman al-Shimy, was present to hear his sentence.

In October 2011, the Alexandria Public Prosecution referred five State Security Investigation Services officers to the criminal court on allegations they tortured Bilal to death. Bilal, a 31-year-old Salafi, was killed while in police custody as a suspect in the New Year's Eve church bombing in the coastal city.

The prosecution charged the police defendants with "Illegal torture, and arrest of a person and murder, in addition to the torture of others," according to state-run news agency MENA.

Police had arrested Bilal at his home at dawn on 5 January 2011, subjected him to torture, and then brought his body home to his family a day later.

The forensic report said he died from his injuries, specifically a head injury that led to a brain bleed.

Egypt's state of emergency, which expired last month after nearly 30 years of being enforced under the rule of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, allowed security forces to arrest and detain suspects for long periods without trial.

Egyptian human rights reports say that security officials were able to evade sanctions for violations against suspects detained under the cover of the Emergency Law.

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