Egypt policemen jailed over death of lawyer Karim Hamdy

Lawyers protest in Cairo after Karim Hamdy's death, 22 October 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Human rights groups say Egypt is jailing dozens of lawyers

A court in Egypt has given five-year jail terms to two policemen convicted of torturing a lawyer to death.

Karim Hamdy was detained in Cairo in February, accused of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

A forensic report showed he died two days later. His ribs were fractured and he had suffered a brain haemorrhage.

The Muslim Brotherhood was removed from power in 2013. The Egyptian government has conducted a crackdown against it since.

Human rights groups say dozens of lawyers have been jailed for defending Muslim Brotherhood members.

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Those convicted of torturing Mr Hamdy to death in Cairo's Matariya district are a lieutenant-colonel and a major.

Mr Hamdy, 27, was beaten to try to force him to admit to a series of allegations, including involvement in anti-government violence.

Mr Hamdy's case attracted particular attention, says BBC Middle East analyst Alan Johnston, because of his standing as a respected lawyer.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members have been jailed

"The verdict is a condemnation of the torture policy in police stations and confirms that the victim was tortured and killed by the two officers," lawyer Mohamed Othman, representing Mr Hamdy's family, told Reuters news agency.

The policemen are allowed to appeal against the verdict.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has promised to investigate all allegations of police abuses which human rights activists say have been on the rise since the coup in 2013.

Nine policemen were committed for trial on Thursday on charges of beating a detainee to death in a police station in the southern town of Luxor.

In a separate development, a trial of 739 people has been postponed because there are too many defendants.

Police say they will not fit in the court's cage-style dock.

The defendants face murder charges linked to protests by supporters of the ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.

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