Train official charged with manslaughter in Egypt
An Egyptian railway official who allegedly forced two men to jump off a moving train last week after they failed to pay for the trip was charged with manslaughter and will be tried before an emergency criminal court.
The North African country’s chief prosecutor on Saturday identified the railway official as Magdy Ibrahim Hamam, and said he was in charge of the 934 service that connects the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and the ancient southern city of Luxor.
Mohammed Eid, 23, and Ahmed Sameer Ahmed, 25, were given three choices by Mr Hamam: pay the fare, be placed in police custody at the next station or jump off the train, the prosecutor said.
Mr Hamam then opened the door of the carriage and told the two Cairo residents to jump off.
Ahmed leapt out as the train travelled at 25 kilometres an hour. He survived but suffered severe injuries.
Eid, who jumped about 86 metres later, was decapitated after he slipped and fell under the wheels of the train, which was now moving at 30kph.
The prosecutor said that while Mr Hamam knew that the two men would be injured if they jumped off the train, his actions did not amount to murder.
He said Mr Hamam “deviated from his duties and abandoned the option of surrendering the two to the police at the nearest station”.
Over the past two decades, hundreds of people have died in train accidents in Egypt involving fires, derailments caused by speeding or signal system failures.
In March this year, a driverless, fuel-laden locomotive exploded after crashing into a wall at Cairo’s busy railway station, killing 22 people.
If convicted, Mr Hamam could face up to seven years in prison. The trial date has yet to be set.
Eid’s gruesome death and the cruelty allegedly shown by Mr Hamam touched a nerve in a country where many are burdened by economic hardship and a lack of adequate and efficient public services.
One question that featured prominently on social media was why passengers who witnessed the standoff between Mr Hamam and the two passengers did not offer to pay the fare to defuse the situation.