[JURIST] Egyptian authorities on Thursday detained two police officers over allegations that they tortured a lawyer to death inside a Cairo police station. The detentions came after Prosecutor Mohammed Abdel-Shafi summoned seven police officers from the station where the event took place. Five were released and the remaining two have not yet been charged. According to Interior Ministry spokesperson Abdel-Fattah Osman, the slain lawyer, Karim Mohammed, was detained after joining an Islamist demonstration on Monday in el-Matariya district, an area where security forces and protesters have clashed during near-weekly demonstrations. According to rights groups and the media, the incident is one of dozens of cases of torture [AP report] causing death inside police stations, and the latest in a series of recent events underlining alleged abuse by the police force. Security forces have unleashed a significant crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archives] and his Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood [BBC backgrounder].
The government crackdown on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and former president Morsi has been punctuated with a number of mass arrests and death sentences. Earlier this month an Egyptian court confirmed death sentences [JURIST report] for 183 supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. The same week Amnesty International [advocacy website] issued a press release [JURIST report] stating that it has gathered evidence that the Egyptian government is covering up the deaths of more than two dozen people who died in protests on the anniversary of the 2011 uprisings. Last week security forces in Egypt arrested [JURIST report] 516 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood according to Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim. Also in January an Egyptian court ordered the retrial [JURIST report] for 152 Muslim Brotherhood supporters sentenced in a mass trial last year. Thirty-seven were sentenced to death, and 115 others were sentenced to life imprisonment for their roles in attacks against Egyptian Christians and their churches in August 2013.