Egypt: 'Tea rampage' police officer sentenced to life imprisonment

Egypt: 'Tea rampage' police officer sentenced to life imprisonment
A police officer who shot dead a tea vendor after refusing to pay for tea in Cairo earlier this year has been sentenced to life in prison.
2 min read
17 November, 2016
Anger over police brutality helped fuel the 2011 uprising [AFP]

An Egyptian court sentenced on Wednesday a low-ranking police officer to life in prison for killing a tea vendor and injuring two others in Cairo earlier this year.

Zeinhom Abdel Razek had gone on a shooting rampage in April in the upscale suburban neighbourhood of Rehab after refusing to pay for a cup of tea, according to witnesses and the interior ministry.

Prosecutors said at the time that Abdel Razek used to drink tea regularly from the same vendor without paying, and the two got into an argument when the vendor finally demanded payment.

"I arrived at the scene right after the shooting," one witness told The New Arab at the time.

"I saw the police officer escape after leaving his machine gun behind."

Local residents gathered at the scene, chanting in protest against the interior ministry and the Egyptian police, witnesses said.

Shortly after the incident, Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar promised to "hold accountable" anyone who violates the law, including police officers, while President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed the importance of deterring "irresponsible" police behavior on the streets.

Their statements came in a bid to combat the perceived culture of impunity of the country's police force, even though the interior ministry continues to deny that it practices any kind of abuse against detainees, referring to some cases as "isolated incidents".

Anger over police brutality helped fuel the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule and began on a Police Day holiday.

In February, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Cairo security directorate after a police officer shot dead a 24-year-old tuk-tuk driver in the street, following a dispute over a fare.

Two months later, a court sentenced the police officer to life in prison, one of the harshest sentences issued to police officers convicted of similar violent crimes.

In another case, police officers were caught on camera attacking a doctor inside a hospital, simply because the medic refused to put all of his patients aside to tend to one of their non-urgent injuries.