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Police who fuelled Egypt riots jailed

There were angry scenes in a Cairo courtroom yesterday when two policemen were jailed for their role in a case which helped spark the Egyptian uprising.

The two men had been convicted of beating to death Khaled Said, 28, from the northern port city of Alexandria who died after being dragged from an internet cafe by a pair of plain-clothed officers last year.

His death sparked a public outcry and soon afterwards a Facebook page was established in his memory. It was on this webpage that activists first called for the demonstrations, which eventually toppled president Hosni Mubarak in February this year.

The two officers, Mahmoud Salah and Awad Ismail Suleiman, were yesterday sentenced to seven years in jail, prompting outraged relatives to smash wooden benches in the courtroom and attempt to attack the dead man's lawyers.

There was also anger from pro-democracy activists, who criticised the seven-year sentence as being too light. One woman, writing on Twitter, described the sentence as a "blow to justice". Khaled Said's family also said they were "shocked".

Others welcomed the sentences. The founder of the Facebook page dedicated to Said said the court case had cleared Said's name following police smears that he had been a drug dealer.

His death in June last year became a rallying cry for activists who used the case to illustrate the problem of state brutality.