Nine Egyptian policemen will face trial in a criminal court charged with beating to death a father of four in the southern city of Luxor, judicial sources said on Thursday.
Talaat Shabib al-Rashidi was one of at least three men who died in police custody in the space of a single week in November, prompting riots in his home town of Luxor and rare media scrutiny of police methods.
Human rights groups say police brutality is widespread in Egypt. They blame a culture of impunity in which police are rarely held to account for the alleged torture of suspects and have called for an independent body to investigate abuse cases.
The interior ministry has said it would investigate all abuse allegations and prosecutors are questioning those involved in the recent deaths.
An end to police brutality was one of the key demands of the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule. Unlike in the past, the families of those who have died in custody have been vocal in their demands for transparent investigations.
Prosecutors ordered the trial after a coroner’s report found Rashidi had received blows to the back and neck that had broken vertebrae and severed his spine, judicial sources said.
Rashidi was picked up by police at a cafe in Luxor and was dead within hours.
Police accused him of dealing in drugs. His family deny that and a cousin said they had been seeking redress days after Rashidi was involved in a public spat with a policeman.
They said Rashidi, in his 40s, worked in a tourist bazaar but had fallen on hard times as the 2011 uprising had hit tourism.