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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Egyptian coroner finds dead whistleblower died by "accident"

Suzanne mentioned the case of Khaled Said, the young Egyptian man who was abducted by police from a cafe and then beaten to death in front of witnesses.

Even though we have pictures of him that show he was beaten, the Egyptian coroner had initially pronounced that he died of "asphyxiation."

Well, human rights groups demanded an investigation, and guess what - the coroner agrees with the other coroner!
After performing a second autopsy on the body of 28-year-old Khaled Saeed, the young man from Alexandria allegedly beaten to death by police on 6 June, state coroners concluded that the victim had died of asphyxiation rather than as a result of police brutality, as is claimed by human rights activists.

According to a preliminary report, the second examination of the body--exhumed following demands by human rights watchdogs for a second autopsy--reconfirmed that Saeed had choked to death on a "foreign body." The report goes on to identify the "foreign body" in question as a packet of Marijuana, which had lodged in the victim's throat and prevented him from breathing. The report strongly suggests that the death had been accidental.

According to witnesses interviewed earlier by Al-Masry Al-Youm, Saeed had been forcefully searched by two police officers before being removed from a local Internet cafe in Alexandria. Witnesses say he was subsequently beaten to death on the sidewalk as passersby looked on.

Initial reports said the officers had demanded money from the victim. Members of Saeed's family, for their part, say the young man had been targeted because he possessed video footage of police officers engaging in drug deals.


Like the first examination, ordered by Attorney-General Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, the second autopsy brushed aside claims by human rights groups that the victim had been savagely beaten to death at the hands of police officers.

The second autopsy, performed by an independent, three-man committee appointed by official forensic authorities, "noted" the injuries, but concluded they had been sustained when police officers attempted to "control" the victim as he resisted arrest. "The injuries are light, and were not the cause of death," reads the report, which was sent to Alexandria prosecutors this afternoon. The report goes on to assert that examinations had revealed the presence of the drug Tramadol in Saeed's intestinal organs.

Leaked pictures of Saeed's dead body show his face bruised and badly shattered after the fatal encounter with police. His lips are cut and bloody, dangling over an obviously dislocated jaw. Eyewitnesses previously confirmed to Al-Masry Al-Youm that the beating Saeed received by police had been "excessive."

Last week, Muhammad Abdel Aziz, a lawyer with the Cairo-based El-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, said that Saeed's head had hit a marble table during an initial assault inside the cafe, after which the young man was subject to an even more savage beating outside. “He screamed at them, saying, ‘I'm dying, leave me,' before falling to the floor,” said Abdel Aziz.