Police faulted in Egypt revolt deaths

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CAIRO -- The highest-level inquiry into the deaths of nearly 900 protesters in Egypt's uprising has concluded that police were behind nearly all the killings and used snipers on rooftops overlooking Cairo's Tahrir Square to shoot into the huge crowds.

The report, parts of which The Associated Press obtained, is the most authoritative and sweeping account of the killings and determines that deadly force used could only have been authorized by Hosni Mubarak's security chief, with the ousted president's full knowledge.

The report of the fact-finding commission, created by Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, could weigh heavily in the upcoming retrial of Mubarak, as well as his security chief, former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, and six top police commanders. It is likely also to fuel calls for reforming the powerful security forces and lead to prosecutions of police force members.

The findings were leaked at a sensitive time for the country's police. Still hated by most Egyptians, the force is in upheaval, with segments of police on strike and its chief, Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, pleading not to drag it into politics. The force is also facing a challenge from Islamist groups threatening to set up "popular committees" to fill what they call a security vacuum created by the police strike.

Part of the force also is protesting what some officers see as a bid by Mr. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood to control the force. The Brotherhood denies the charge.

The Interior Ministry, which controls the police, has repeatedly rejected charges that it bore responsibility for the killings in Cairo and other cities during the 18-day uprising that began Jan. 25, 2011, and ended with Mubarak stepping down. In contrast, the pro-democracy activists behind the uprising have long maintained that police were to blame.

Mubarak and Adly, the second-most-powerful figure after the ousted leader, were convicted and sentenced to life in jail in June 2012 for failing to stop the killings, but the two have successfully appealed their convictions. The six top police commanders put on trial with Mubarak and Adly -- including Cairo's head of security and the riot police commander -- were acquitted of charges related to the killings. The prosecution appealed that verdict, and a new trial of the eight will start next month.

The report was submitted to Mr. Morsi and the nation's top prosecutor late last year. Mr. Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, has repeatedly vowed to seek retribution for victims of the revolution and has ordered pensions and monetary compensation for families of the dead and wounded. He has also decreed the creation of a special prosecution office to investigate and refer to trials criminal cases related to the uprising.

One of the report's authors, lawyer and rights activist Mohsen Bahnasy, said he planned to submit relevant parts of the report to the prosecution in the Mubarak case, as well as to other courts trying policemen charged with killing protesters. In the past two years, trials of policemen over protester killings have almost all ended with acquittals.

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