Train of­fi­cial charged with man­slaugh­ter in Egypt

The National - News - - NEWS - Hamza Hendawi

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.

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