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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 November 2007, 18:27 GMT
Egypt police jailed for killing
A court in Egypt has jailed four police personnel, including a captain and a plainclothes informant, for beating a man to death during interrogation.

Three of the accused, including the captain, were sentenced to seven years. A fourth received a three-year term.

Egypt has seen been a number of recent high-profile incidents and allegations of routine abuse of detainees.

Correspondents say police used to act with near-impunity, but these penalties show growing intolerance of such abuse.

This is the longest sentence heard of in the last 10 years
Gasser Abdel-Razek
Human Rights Watch
Earlier this month, two police officers were sentenced to three years in prison for sexually assaulting a man with a stick at a police station in the capital, Cairo.

Two days later, officials said another man had died from his injures after being tortured by the police for three days in Giza.

Public outrage

The four police personnel were sentenced by the criminal court in the northern Nile Delta town of Mansoura late on Tuesday after a hearing lasting more than 10 hours.

The men were convicted of beating a carpenter, Nasr Abdullah, to death in July by banging his head against the wall in order to extract information about the location of his brother, a suspect in a drugs case.

Mr Abdullah's death provoked angry demonstrations by local people.

"This is the longest sentence heard of in the last 10 years," Gasser Abdel-Razek of the US-based organisation Human Rights Watch told the Associated Press.

"This one is very interesting."

But Mr Abdel-Razek warned that the sentence was most likely the result of an activist judge rather a change in the government's stance on police brutality.

"This is the judiciary - it's not the government. If the government wants to get tougher on this it should start by amending the legislation to conform to international law," he added.

In another recent case in Mansoura, a judicial investigation cleared a policeman who had questioned a 13-year-old boy who died shortly after spending several days in custody on suspicion of stealing packets of tea.

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