Page last updated at 14:57 GMT, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 15:57 UK

Egypt conscripts on murder charge

By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC News, Cairo

Egyptian riot police
Egypt's police have been criticised for condoning a culture of brutality

Ten Egyptian paramilitary police conscripts have been charged with beating a colleague to death in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

Egypt's police have been criticised for condoning a culture of brutality, a charge denied by the interior ministry.

The incident came to light after an internal report concluded that Ali Zarif had killed himself.

But a subsequent criminal investigation found that his body was covered in cuts and bruises.

The Egyptian press has carried some gruesome details of how the conscripts were allegedly given orders by their superiors to beat their colleague with sticks.

The prosecutor has remanded the 10 conscripts in custody but it is not known yet whether any of the officers allegedly involved in the incident will face any charges.

The conscripts belong to what is known here as the Central Security Forces.

These are anti-riot troops that are often deployed in large numbers against demonstrators or striking workers.

Most of them are from the countryside, extremely poor and cannot read or write.

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