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Khaled Said verdict – and Egyptian justice – delayed again

A verdict for two policemen accused in the murder of Khaled Said, the young man whose beating death helped spark Egypt's revolution, was postponed until September.

By Sarah LynchCorrespondent / June 30, 2011

Demonstraters chant anti-police slogans outside a court building during the trial of two police officers charged with causing the death of activist Khaled Said, in Alexandria June 30. The Egyptian court said on Thursday it would rule on Sept. 24 in the case of the two policemen charged with beating Said to death, whose death partly inspired protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Mohamed Abd El-Ghany/Reuters

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Cairo

The verdict in the case of Khaled Said, a young businessman whose murder last June planted the seeds for the nation’s revolution, was postponed today until Sept. 24, once again delaying justice.

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“I’ve been waiting for the verdict, but this is how it works in Egypt,” says Omar al-Shamy, a young man who was injured by a tear-gas canister and metal pellets fired by police in the early hours of Wednesday morning. “I didn’t expect the postponement, but I’m not surprised.”

The deferral could work in favor of Said's family, however. Officials from the Alexandria Criminal Court said the delay was to create time to form an investigative committee to examine two autopsy reports and pictures while the two accused policemen are in custody, Reuters reported.

The Said case is of symbolic importance to Egypt's revolution, which stemmed in part from a Facebook page called “We are all Khaled Said.” Created by Google executive Wael Ghonim, the page attracted tens of thousands of members fed up with police brutality and torture. It helped spark the uprising that brought hundreds of thousands more to the streets for 18 days of revolutionary protests that ultimately led to Mubarak’s ouster.

“This case mobilized people in a way never seen before in Egypt and it was part of the buildup that led to Tahrir,” says Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch. Torture and abuse cases have been widespread in Egypt for decades, but police are seldom held accountable.

Many suspect that the forensic documents regarding the case are fabricated. For instance, early police reports said Mr. Said died because he choked on a packet of marijuana that he swallowed when the police entered the cafe, despite multiple witnesses who say they saw policemen beating him. His family insists Said didn't even smoke tobacco.

Said was dragged from an Internet cafe in the northern city of Alexandria in June and beaten and killed. His alleged assailants are policemen Mahmoud Salah Mahmoud and Awad Ismael Soliman. He had earlier posted online video that appeared to show members of Sidi Gaber police station – where both Mr. Salah and Mr. Soliman work – dividing up the proceeds of a drug bust.

Pictures of Said’s mutilated body circulated quickly online, inciting public outrage.

Still waiting

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