A driver named Mohamed Saleh, 26, died on Sunday inside Tahta police station in Sohag after allegedly being assaulted and tortured by officers from the Investigation Bureau, according to family members.
A family member named Al-Sayed told Daily News Egypt that Saleh was beaten to death in the police station after staff and officers at the police station “held a party” and tortured him.
“[His corpse] was transferred to the Tahta public hospital, and the government [the police] said he died there,” Al-Sayed said.
The hospital and a representative of the Health Ministry said that he might have died from a heart attack, an argument the family of Saleh refuted. The hospital’s report cited “circulatory failure” as a reason of death, and stated the absence of any signs of assault or torture on the body.
Upon hearing the news, thousands from the village gathered at the hospital. They refused to receive the body for the funeral without a report by a forensics teams. The forensic medicine department has examined the body but the report has not been made public as of yet.
The family buried Saleh’s body and his funeral was attended by hundreds.
“We accuse the police of killing him,” Al-Sayed asserted.
Saleh was a tuktuk driver and was arrested on 16 July, after being accused of killing the village chief of a district called Al-Sheikh Zin Al-Din.
“The police accused Saleh and others of killing the chief and he was arrested and tortured,” Al-Sayed said, adding that Saleh was only given two pieces of bread per day in the police station.
According to the investigations, which are published on state media, the personal mobile phone of the village chief had received and missed calls from Saleh in its call register.
Another member of Saleh’s family said: “As he was a tuktuk driver, he was hired by the chief to run errands.”
A Ministry of Interior representative was not available for comments or clarification.
However, several pro-government private newspapers cited anonymous security sources as saying that the victim was not tortured.
In cases of death in detention, official bodies often claim the victim died due to “circulatory failure”.
The occurrence comes after several reports in recent months that allege police officers have beaten and tortured citizens over minor incidents. There have been several cases of people dying in police custody, causing anger among the general public and prompting police officials to describe such incidents as “isolated incidents” or “individual acts”.