Part of courthouse burnt in Egypt clashes

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm •  Published: January 20, 2013
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CAIRO (AP) — A courthouse went up in flames in Egypt's northern Mediterranean city of Alexandria during clashes between protesters and riot police Sunday, according to witnesses.

The blaze destroyed part of the building, burning some files. A security official said unidentified assailants were responsible.

This was the second straight day of clashes there ahead of the two-year anniversary of Egypt's uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Young men threw rocks at police, who responded with tear gas, outside the courthouse where six senior police officers were on trial for deaths of protesters during the nation's 2011 uprising.

Two years after the revolt was first sparked, families of the deceased remain frustrated over the pace of reform. Rights groups have criticized what they say remains a culture of police impunity.

Two trucks that transport riot police was set ablaze outside the courthouse, which is near the Italian consulate, after Judge Mohammed Hammad Abdel-Hadi resigned from the case on Sunday. He did not say why he quit.

His resignation means a new trial for the police officers accused of using excessive force that led to the deaths of protesters during the unrest that ousted Mubarak.

Alexandria's former security director is among those on trial. Mohammed Ibrahim has since retired, while the others are still working for the Interior Ministry.

A day earlier, protesters and riot police clashed outside the same courthouse. Families of the dead were angered by the judge's decision Saturday to bar the prosecution from calling witnesses to testify.

Since Mubarak was deposed on Feb. 11, 2011, nearly 100 police officers have been brought to trial on charges of killing and wounding protesters. All were acquitted or received suspended sentences. Mubarak and his former interior minister were sentenced to life in prison for failing to stop the killings. They were granted a retrial this month.

Around 900 protesters died in the revolt that began Jan. 25, 2011, with some 300 killed in Alexandria alone.

A fact-finding committee set up by President Mohammed Morsi, who came to office in June as Egypt's first freely elected president, submitted a 700-page report this month on protester deaths over the past two years. The commission is comprised of judges, rights lawyers, and representatives from the Interior Ministry and the intelligence, as well as families of victims.

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