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Police arrest scores at protest in Cairo

Associated Press / June 14, 2010

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CAIRO — Egyptian security forces hit protesters and knocked some to the ground before rounding dozens up at a demonstration yesterday against a police beating that killed a young man a week ago.

The protesters were venting anger over the death of 28-year-old Khaled Said in the port city of Alexandria on June 6. Relatives, at least one witness, and human rights groups say police beat him to death and pictures of his bloody, disfigured face have been circulating on the Internet. The Egyptian government said he choked to death on a marijuana joint as police were trying to arrest him.

Human rights groups say police torture is routine in Egypt, though the government denies it is systematic. Reformers say a three-decade-old emergency law they describe as a central tool of repression by President Hosni Mubarak’s regime is to blame. Cases of police brutality rarely result in punishment.

About two hundred protesters gathered near the Ministry of Justice in Cairo yesterday afternoon, some chanting “Down with Hosni Mubarak’’ and others holding signs calling for an end to military rule and the prosecution of the interior minister for Said’s death.

Security forces, some of them in plainclothes, beat protesters and knocked some to the ground. They put them in headlocks and handcuffed them before dragging them off to waiting trucks for arrest.

“Security officials used extreme forms of brutality on the protesters as they were arresting them,’’ said Ahmed Maher, one of the protest organizers, who estimated 80 people had been detained.

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