Brother of torture victim was offered bribes to drop lawsuit

The brother of a man tortured to death by police has alleged that the Ministry of Interior offered him LE1 million in return for dropping a lawsuit against the suspects.

The family of Sayed Belal, 31, accuses security authorities of torturing their son to death during interrogations at a police station in January. Police accused Belal of involvement in the bombing of an Alexandria church on New Year's Eve, which resulted in the deaths of 23 Christian worshippers.

"The Interior Ministry offered the amount to my family more than once," Ibrahim Belal told the Masrawy news website. He did not, however, specify the time when the ministry tried to bribe him.

He stressed that his family insists on legal action, adding that he intends to push for the prosecution of the attorney general over what he described as impediments to investigations and a failure to enforce a previous court order to apprehend officers suspected of involvement in the case.

Belal wondered why the ministry has ignored their demands to arrest the officers involved, despite being aware of their places of residence and work.

He said his family will stage a protest on Friday outside the Qaed Ibrahim mosque in Alexandria, and another outside the High Court in Cairo.

In October, public prosecutors referred five police officers from the dissolved State Security Investigations Service to a criminal court over the death of Belal.

State-run news agency MENA said the suspects faced charges of torture, arbitrary arrest, and murder.

The criminal court in Alexandria was previously scheduled to start the trials in December, but they were postponed to 23 February due to parliamentary elections scheduled for January.

On Sunday, judicial sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that four of the suspected officers are being prosecuted in absentia, while only one defendant, Major Mohamed al-Shimy, remains in custody.

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