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Suspect in Cairo attacks dies in custody

One of the suspected organizers of a cell that attacked tourists in April in Egypt died of injuries sustained while in police custody, the prosecutor general’s office said on Saturday.
/ Source: Reuters

One of the suspected organizers of a cell that attacked tourists in April in Egypt died of injuries sustained while in police custody, the prosecutor general’s office said on Saturday.

The Interior Ministry had identified Ashraf Said Youssef as the man who recruited a bomber who killed two French people, an American man and himself in a Cairo bazaar blast on April 7.

“On the evening of May 19, the prosecutor was informed by a police report of the death of the accused Ashraf Said Youssef,” the prosecutor’s office said in its statement.

“The prosecutor general’s office was informed by a police report that the accused Ashraf Said Youssef was afflicted, while in the room he was detained in, by a state of agitation, during which he purposefully hit his head on the wall of the room,” it said.

“He was taken to hospital after this led him to become unconscious,” it added.

The prosecutor general’s office said Youssef had been admitted to hospital on May 11.

In April, Youssef’s cousin died in police custody, police sources said, but the circumstances surrounding the death were unclear. It was not clear whether his cousin was implicated in the attacks.

In an attack later in April, a suicide bomber struck foreign tourists near Egypt’s most famous museum while his veiled sister and wife opened fire at a tourist bus. All three died.

The suicide bomber, Ihab Yousri Yassin, was a fugitive member of the cell that planned the earlier bombing in the bazaar in Cairo’s historic district, the Interior Ministry said at the time.

Police detained 200 people for questioning after that and said they were hunting for Yassin’s brother Mohammed, who they said was present when Yassin’s wife and sister opened fire.

Mohammed Yousri was found in Libya and the authorities handed him back to Egypt.

Reports from the state-owned press said confessions from Youssef had helped lead investigators to discover Yousri’s location.

The government-financed Supreme Council for Human Rights said in its first annual report this month that at least nine Egyptians died in detention during 2004 and that torture was commonplace in Egyptian detention facilities.