Egyptian café owner: I saw police beat a young man to death

Local authorities claim Khaled Said choked on a joint he swallowed when they sought to arrest him outside Alexandria establishment.

demonstration egypt 311 (photo credit: AP)
demonstration egypt 311
(photo credit: AP)
CAIRO — The owner of an Egyptian Internet cafe on Sunday said he witnessed police beating a young man to death and described the killing that has outraged rights activists.
Egypt's Interior Ministry has denied the allegations, claiming on Saturday that the 28-year-old was wanted by police and died after choking on a joint he swallowed when policemen sought to arrest him.
Activists say 28-year-old Khaled Said's death is an example of rampant abuses made possible by a three-decade-old emergency law they describe as a central tool of repression by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's regime.
In a filmed interview posted online Sunday by a leading opposition party, cafe owner Hassan Mosbah said two police officers came into his establishment in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, dragged Khaled Said out into the street and beat him to death there.
"We thought they would just interrogate him or ask him questions. But they took him as he struggled with his hands behind his back and banged his head against the marble table inside here," Mosbah said in an interview conducted by a journalist from the liberal opposition al-Ghad newspaper.
Mosbah said he told the police to take it outside and they hauled Said into the doorway of a nearby building. He did not emerge alive, said the cafe owner.
A fact-finding mission by the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, confirmed the cafe owner's account.
"They dragged him to the adjacent building and banged his head against an iron door, the steps of the staircase and walls of the building," the Cairo-based organization said in a statement Sunday.