Anti-government Demonstrations In Wake Of Prisoner
ZAGAZIG, Egypt (AP) _ Shouting students vowed Wednesday to make President Hosni Mubarak pay with his life for the death of a policeman the government says hanged himself rather than face 25-year imprisonment in the murder of seven Israeli tourists.
A government announcement on Tuesday that Sgt. Suleiman Khater, 24, had committed suicide in his prison hospital room triggered the outburst by about 700 students at Zagazig University, where Khater was a correspondence student.
Khater was sentenced last month to life imprisonment at hard labor for the Oct. 5 murder of four Israeli children, two women and an elderly man on a Sinai beach. Egyptian law limits life terms to 25 years.
The Defense Ministry said guards found Khater strangled with a piece of plastic bedding around his neck and attached to bars of his window. Medical examiners ruled the death was suicide.
Maj. Gen. Farouk Seada, deputy district security chief, said Khater was buried in his isolated village of Akyad, 25 miles east of Zagazig, a provincial capital in the Nile Delta 60 miles northeast of Cairo.
Seada said about 500 of the estimated 4,000 villagers were at the funeral and denied that the village had been cordoned off. But vehicles carrying reporters and others were stopped on the narrow dirt road several miles from the village and were told they could go no further ″for your own protection.″
University demonstrators in Zagazig assaulted this reporter and a driver and shouted ″Get out, American 3/8 Get out, Jew 3/8″ Both escaped unharmed after the reporter showed an Italian passport.
Police sealed off the university campus but did not intervene as the main crowd of demonstrators and smaller groups of 30 to 50 students milled about.
″Mubarak will pay for it 3/8″ demonstrators carrying black flags shouted. Others yelled: ″We will kill him as we killed the other.″ Mubarak’s predecessor, Anwar Sadat, was slain in a hail of automatic rifle fire from Moslem extremists in 1981.
One placard read: ″Suleiman is a sacrifice to the Jews and Americans.″
Khater had become something of a cause celebre for elements of Egypt’s political opposition, which depicted him in party newspapers as a hero in the Arab fight against Israel or a martyr to the government’s efforts not to offend the United States or Israel.
Newspapers in the Arab states in the Persian Gulf charged that Khater was killed either by Egyptian security or Israeli intelligence agents.
Egypt government radio dismissed the claims as ″a torrent of lies″ and said Khater was ″an ordinary Egyptian who committed an ordinary crime and was punished for it but decided to take his own life.″
In Tehran, Iranian Prime Minister Hussein Musavi told newsmen that a street in Tehran will be named after Khater ″to honor the brave resistance of this great man.″