CAIRO, Egypt -- An Egyptian court sentenced a police captain and two of his plainclothes informants to seven years in prison for torturing a man to death, court officials said Wednesday, in a sign of increasing government intolerance for police brutality.
Three men, as well as another police man who received three years for his involvement, were sentenced by Mansoura criminal court late on Tuesday after a marathon hearing that lasted for more than 10 hours, resulting in a surprisingly unusual tough verdict.
The defendants were found guilty of beating Nasr Abdullah, 38, a carpenter, to death in July in his village, Telbana, Mansoura, 110 kilometers (70 miles) north of Cairo resulting in angry demonstrations from villagers.
The sentence comes only two weeks after two other police officers received three years in prison for sodomizing a minibus driver after his arrest, in a high-profile case that shed new light on the widespread police brutality in Egypt.
The incident caused national uproar after a cell phone video of the officers sexually abusing the victim, Emad el-Kabir, 22, was leaked to bloggers and appeared on the Internet.
In November 2006, several Egyptian bloggers posted a video, which also later appeared on the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube, showing a man naked from the waist down being raped with a stick. As he screamed in pain, those around him, whose faces were not visible, ridiculed him.
The initial reaction of the authorities to this video and other videos of police abuse in Egypt was that they were fabricated and that they defame Egypt. But since the trial of el-Kabir started earlier this year, more of these incidents are being tried in court.
Rights groups say torture, including sexual abuse, is routinely used in police stations and in the interrogation of prisoners, but the government denies it is systematic.
The Ministry of Interior, which supervises detention facilities, is increasingly investigating these allegations of torture, though most officers so far have been acquitted or received light sentences and subsequent pardons.