Court adjourns Sayed Bilal murder trial to May

Alexandria Criminal Court has adjourned to 19 May the trial of five police officers accused of torturing a young Salafi man to death in January 2011 after suspecting his involvement in a deadly church blast.

Officers from the now-dissolved State Security Investigation Services detained Sayed Bilal and interrogated him over his alleged involvement in the bombing of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria on Christmas Eve, an incident that left at least 24 dead.

Bilal’s death stoked discontent with inhumane practices by security services and was considered by many as an instigating factor behind the breakout of the uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.

The court postponed the trial to May to hear the plaintiffs’ case. It provided the plaintiffs’ lawyers with a photocopy of documents of the church blast investigations. Lawyers demanded the original copy, saying the photocopied version was incomplete.

Only one defendant, officer Mohamed al-Shimy, appeared in court. The rest of defendants remain at large.

The plaintiffs asked the court to question Major General Yahia Haggag, a witness who had left the courtroom before he was called in for testimony.

A few friends of Bilal staged a protest outside the court, calling for retribution and stressing that his death will not pass in vain.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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