CAIRO – New evidence emerged Saturday in the case of a young Alexandria businessman whose death helped spark Egypt's uprising, raising his family's hopes that the policemen on trial could face more serious charges.
Khaled Said's family and witnesses accuse police of savagely beating him to death after an argument at an Alexandria Internet cafe in June of last year. As proof, they point to photos of his body showing his badly disfigured and bloodied face as well as witness accounts.
The police say the 28-year-old choked on a packet of drugs he swallowed as they approached, a finding supported by two state forensic reports.
A new forensic report presented in court Saturday by an independent committee shows a packet of drugs was forced into his mouth.
Said's family welcomed the new finding, which raised the possibility that the more serious charge of manslaughter could be added to the two policemen's indictment. Currently, they are charged with illegal arrest and the use of excessive force.
The photographs of Said's face after his death were posted on the Internet and became a rallying point for campaigners trying to bring attention to rampant police brutality under the regime of Hosni Mubarak.
Activists used a Facebook page set up in his memory to call for the protests that forced Mubarak from power in February.
After a public outcry, prosecutors charged Mahmoud Salah and Awad Ismail Suleiman with illegal arrest and harsh treatment, falling short of the family's demands for a murder charge.
Said's sister, Zahra, said the forensic review marked a "new turn" in the case, adding that she now believes there is evidence that "this is not a case of torture but a crime of premeditated murder."
On June 30, the court ordered a review of the earlier forensic reports, giving new momentum to a trial that had been repeatedly postponed.
The court tasked a committee of forensic experts from three Egyptian universities to review the earlier reports on the cause of Said's death prepared by the state's chief coroner.