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Feb 9, 10:48 AM EST

Egyptian policeman sentenced to 8 years over a vet death

AP Photo
AP Photo/Ron Edmonds

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CAIRO (AP) -- An Egyptian court on Tuesday sentenced a policeman to eight years in prison for beating a veterinarian to death, in a case that sparked public anger over rampant police abuses.

The funeral for Afifi Afifi, who was killed in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia in November, triggered protests against police violence. It was one of series of incidents that prompted President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to offer a rare apology for police abuses.

Police officer Mohammed Ibrahim was found guilty of beating Afifi to death and fabricating an official document. He was also fined 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($650) for insulting Afifi's wife.

Police brutality was one of the main grievances behind the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Rights groups say police have returned to using torture, random arrests and forced disappearances as part of a sweeping crackdown on dissent since the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

El-Sissi, who as military chief led Morsi's overthrow amid mass protests against the Islamist leader, last month vowed to punish abusive policemen in the wake of series of deaths of detainees. Egypt's Interior Ministry maintains that such abuses are not systemic but "individual" acts.

Also on Tuesday, Egypt's general prosecutor referred the chief editor of el-Watan daily, Magdi el-Gallad, and two other journalists to trial for "fabricating news." The case is linked to a story published by the well-known paper on the waste of public funds at an Egyptian hospital.

Egypt's General Motors affiliate has meanwhile suspended operations for a week because of a shortage of foreign currency, a company official said.

The official told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the decision is the first of its kind in over 30 years operating in Egypt. General Motors has a nearly 25 percent share of the country's car market.

"We are not the only company suffering; the crisis in currency is no secret," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the press. She added that the company will review its decision on Feb. 13.

Egypt's foreign currency reserves have dwindled following years of political turmoil and a decline in tourism, a key earner.

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