CAIRO (AFP) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The European Union on Monday expressed concern over the death of a 28-year-old man allegedly killed at the hands of Egyptian police, and called for an impartial inquiry into the matter.
“The EU Heads of Mission express their concern about the circumstances of the death of Khaled Said in Alexandria on 6 June,” European ambassadors based in Cairo said in a joint statement.
According to witnesses, Said was killed when plainclothes policemen dragged him out of an Internet cafe and beat him to death on a busy Alexandria street.
Egypt’s interior ministry said he had died from asphyxiation after swallowing a bag of narcotics when approached by officers.
Rights groups have rejected the official account, and Said has since become a symbol for rights activists against police brutality, for which Egypt has been criticised at home and abroad.
Following demands from Said’s relatives and rights groups, Egypt’s public prosecutor had ordered a second autopsy, after which he confirmed earlier police claims that Said had died after swallowing the drugs.
The European ambassadors said “they take note of the results of the second autopsy as well as of the conflicting accounts of witnesses and statements of the family of Mr Said and of human rights organisations which differ with the conclusions of the second autopsy.”
“In view of these discrepancies, EU Heads of Mission welcome the declared readiness of the Egyptian authorities to conduct a judicial inquiry into this death and look forward to the inquiry being conducted impartially, transparently and swiftly in a way that will credibly resolve the discrepancies,” they said.
“EU Heads of Mission are confident that the Egyptian authorities will investigate allegations of abuse by police effectively and prosecute offenders,” they said.
Disturbing images of Said’s battered and bruised face have appeared on social networking websites, sparking public outcry and condemnation from local and international rights groups.