Two policemen convicted of beating a young man to death in a case that inspired Egypt's uprising were sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday, enraging families of the police who smashed wooden benches in the courtroom and tried to attack the dead man's lawyers and relatives, the lawyer said.
Khaled Said is seen as Egypt's Mohammed Bouazizi — the fruit seller whose self-immolation sparked the Tunisian revolution that began the chain of Arab Spring uprisings.
Said's death became an immediate rallying point for activists campaigning against widespread police brutality and other human rights abuses under former President Hosni Mubarak.
Months later, a Facebook page created in his memory was used to put out a call for the Jan. 25 protests that grew into the 18-day uprising that would topple Mubarak.
The family said they were "shocked" by the verdict, adding it shows that the revolution is being "aborted."
Egyptian activists immediately took to Twitter to condemn the light sentence, another in a long string of disappointments for the millions who considered this case a test of the extent that the revolution would sweep away deep-seated corruption and widespread injustice.
The 28-year-old Said died on June 6, 2010 after two plainclothes policemen dragged him out of an internet cafe in the northern port city of Alexandria and beat him to death, according to witnesses.
Police tried to portray him as a drug dealer and claimed that Said choked on a packet of drugs he swallowed as they approached, a finding contested in recent forensic reports that showed the packet was forced into his mouth. The claim met with derision by many after photos of Said's corpse were widely circulated, showing his body covered with bruises, his teeth broken and jaw smashed.