Egypt puts on trial police officer over killing of driver

Friday 19/02/2016
Egypt President hopes to toughen sanctions for police abuses

CAIRO - A policeman is to stand trial for murder after a driver was shot dead in a dispute over a fare, the Egyptian prosecutor's office said Sunday, as public concern rises over police abuses.

Mustafa Mahmud is alleged to have shot dead Mohamed Ali Sayed Ismail, 26, with his police issue firearm late Thursday in central Cairo after a row over the fare for a delivery.

Mahmud has been charged with "premeditated murder" and "illegal use of his service weapon" and will go on trial, a senior official at the prosecutor's office said.

Police have been on the defensive after a string of deaths in custody, reminiscent of abuses that sparked an 18-day uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Five years on, human rights groups are again denouncing torture and deaths in police stations, arbitrary arrests and the disappearances of opponents of the regime.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Friday said he would ask parliament to amend the law to toughen sanctions for police abuses, following outrage on social media and after dozens of protesters gathered outside Cairo police headquarters.

Last week, thousands of doctors held a protest against the police after officers allegedly assaulted two doctors in a hospital.

Over the past year, several policeman have been detained for violence against prisoners and some have been sentenced to jail.

After then army chief Sisi overthrew his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013, authorities have led a brutal crackdown on his supporters, killing hundreds and jailing thousands.

Members of the secular opposition who led the 2011 revolt have also been arrested and imprisoned.