The Cairo Criminal Court postponed Saturday the trial session of a case involving National Security police officers accused of torturing lawyer Kareem Hamdy to death, as police were unable to secure the court.
The police told the court that, due to “Suez Canal preparations”, they will not be able to secure the trial. Trials in which police officers or state officials face prosecution are heavily guarded by Special Forces from the police, and sometimes the military. It is unclear when the next trial session will take place.
The officers, a lieutenant colonel and a major, attended the first session in their trial at the Criminal Court on 26 June, where they face charges of “beating until death”. The trial was held at the heavily secured Police Academy.
The Homeland Security apparatus is the successor of the controversial State Security apparatus, which was accused in the era of former president Hosni Mubarak of mass torture and severe human rights violations. On 1 March, lawyers protested in Cairo and organised a mass rally to demand Hamdy’s retribution, mostly chanting against the Ministry of Interior.
The authorities attempted to charge the lawyers with violating the Protest Law, by opening investigations on six lawyers in May. By June, increased hostility by the police against lawyers sparked nationwide anger.
On 6 June, the Lawyers’ Syndicate launched a general strike following a physical assault by a police officer on a lawyer inside a police station in Damietta.
Torture has been a controversial subject in Egypt, where the police are accused of torturing detainees and suspects. In the majority of cases, the police announce that “cause of death is failure in the blood circulation of the body”.
Since the beginning of the year, reports of deaths in custody have been on the rise. The El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence recently released a report on cases of torture and abuse in Egyptian prison and detention facilities during March.