Riots erupt in Cairo after police shoot street vendor dead over price of a cup of tea

Demonstrators overturn ambulance and throw rocks at police following killing

Caroline Mortimer
Wednesday 20 April 2016 00:20
Riots spilled out onto the streets of Cairo after police shot the vendor dead
Riots spilled out onto the streets of Cairo after police shot the vendor dead

Demonstrators took to the streets of Cairo after a police officer fatally shot a street vendor after arguing with him over the price of a cup of tea.

The officer opened fire with an assault rifle shooting the vendor through the heart and injuring two others.

The official MENA news agency later quoted an unnamed security official as saying that Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar has referred the officer to the prosecutor's office.

Around 200 people gathered on the streets of the New Cairo district on the east of the city to pelt the police with rocks and chant “the Interior Ministry are thugs”.

Photos and video clips appeared online showing the protesters pushing over an ambulance and a police car.

Abuses of power by police are nothing new in Egypt, but recent cases have provoked unrest in the country.

Similar assaults by law enforcement were one of the factors in the Arab Spring uprising of 2011 that toppled former dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

Human rights groups say a culture of impunity among the Egyptian security forces has led to widespread police brutality. Trials of offending officers are rare and, when they do occur, sentences are usually appealed and subsequently reduced.

Earlier this month, an officer was sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty of killing a 24-year-old taxi driver in February.

It comes after an Italian security team arrived in Cairo on Tuesday to review the case of an Italian student who was found dead by the side of the road with signs of severe torture after he had been researching Egyptian trade unions.

Italy has said it was prepared to take "immediate and proportional measures" against Egypt if it fails to provide all the information it has about the torture and death of doctoral student Giulio Regeni.

Earlier this month, Italy withdrew its ambassador in Egypt after authorities repeatedly denied its security services’ involvement in the killing.

Additional reporting by AP

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