JUNE 12 2010 18:28h

Egypt authorities deny police beat man to death

Police forces

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Egyptian authorities on Saturday denied police beat to death a 28-year-old man, after Internet pictures allegedly showing him bruised and battered sparked condemnation from rights groups.

Egypt's Security Information Centre said in a statement that Khaled Mohammed Said had died after swallowing a bag of narcotics as police approached him in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria last week.

But rights groups say Said was beaten to death outside an Internet cafe after refusing to be searched by police dressed in plain clothing.

On Friday, Amnesty International called for an "immediate, full and independent investigation into the brutal killing of a 28-year-old Egyptian man, Khaled Mohammed Said, while in the hands of Egyptian security forces in the city of Alexandria."

He was dragged out of the Internet cafe and beaten to death on the street, according to the El-Nadeem Centre, a rights group following the case.

Pictures have since surfaced on the Internet allegedly showing Said's bruised face and body.

"The horrific photographs are shocking evidence of the abuses taking place in Egypt," Amnesty said.

"These pictures are a rare, first-hand glimpse of the routine use of brutal force by the Egyptian security forces, who expect to operate in a climate of impunity, with no questions asked," it said.

Amnesty criticised Egypt's decades-old emergency law, which was recently renewed for two years, under which it said "abuses by security forces are routine and rarely punished."

Last month, Egypt extended the controversial law which gives police extended powers of arrest and curbs non-governmental political activity.

The government vowed that a modified version of the law would only be used in cases related to terrorism and narcotics.