A judge has ordered the release of two Egyptian policemen previously sentenced for the beating death of a man after an appeal overturned their manslaughter conviction.

The death of 28-year-old Khaled Said was a major spark for the 2011 uprising that forced longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power. Photographs of Said's severely beaten face after his June 2010 death in Alexandria were posted on the Internet and became a rallying cry against rampant police brutality under Mubarak.

On the opening day of the retrial Saturday, the presiding judge ordered the policemen released pending trial. An appeal overturned their 7-year sentence for manslaughter.

Activists outside the Alexandria courthouse chanted against police and President Mohammed Morsi. Said's mother, Laila Marzouk, told The Associated Press she feels her son died in vain.