February 9, 2016 / 4:17 PM / 2 years ago

Egyptian policeman who killed man in custody jailed for eight years

ISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) - A police officer in Egypt's eastern city of Ismailia has been sentenced to eight years in jail for beating a man to death in custody and falsifying police records, judicial sources said on Tuesday.

Human rights groups say police brutality is widespread in Egypt and that there is a culture of impunity. Trials such as this are rare and when they do occur, sentences are usually appealed and subsequently reduced.

The court sentenced the officer to five years for "torture and beating leading to death" and three years for falsifying police records regarding the case. The verdict can be appealed.

The victim was a middle-aged veterinarian had died in custody hours after being hauled from his wife's pharmacy on Nov. 25. Protesters burned tyres in the street shortly after his death.

He was one of three men to die in police custody in the space of a single week in November, prompting riots in Ismailia and the southern city Luxor where nine policemen are facing trial for the beating to death of a father of four.

The sentencing comes as Egypt is under scrutiny following the death of an Italian student found tortured by a roadside in Cairo. Italy has demanded those responsible be brought to justice. Egypt has dismissed suggestions its security services could have been involved.

The spate of deaths in November drew rare media attention and prompted some street demonstrations, an echo of the public anger against police that helped spark the revolution that brought down President Hosni Mubarak five years ago.

Reporting by Yusri Ahmed; Additional reporting by Ahmed Mohamed Hassan and Haithem Ahmed in Cairo; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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