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Revolution anniversary detainees reportedly tortured

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Detainees’ lawyer says those held at Abu Zaabal prison are subject to “the harshest” detention conditions

Muslim Brotherhood supporters (background) clash with supporters of the Egyptian government in Cairo on January 25, 2014. Deadly clashes erupted in Egypt Saturday as rival demonstrations were held on the anniversary of the 2011 revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak, underscoring the country's violent polarisation three years after the Arab Spring.  (AFP PHOTO/AHMED TARANH)

Muslim Brotherhood supporters  clash with supporters of the Egyptian government in Cairo on January 25, 2014.
(AFP PHOTO/AHMED TARANH)

The North Cairo Prosecution extended on Sunday the detention of 79 detainees arrested during the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising, all of whom reported facing torture, according to their lawyer Mahmoud Belal.

Among the 1,079 the Ministry of Interior reported to have arrested on 25 January, at least 79 are being held at Abu Zaabal Prison, which Belal describes as “inhumane” and “notorious for torture”. Thirty-nine of the detained faced prosecution at the Azbakeya Court on Saturday, while the remaining 40 faced prosecution on Sunday.

The detainees include members of political parties such as Al-Dostour Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Social Popular Alliance Party, said Al-Dostour Party spokesman Khaled Dawoud. They also include two prominent leftist youth activists, Khaled Al-Sayed and Nagi Kamel.

Dawoud, who attended Sunday’s investigation, described the detention situation as “miserable”. Belal said that some detainees complained of being forced to take off their clothes in the cold, while one detainee claimed he was “electrocuted in his private parts”. Most detainees said they were humiliated and subjected to physical and verbal assault.

Belal said that, in his presence, some detainees were threatened with further torture by police officers, should they speak about their ill-treatment.

“The situation is generally terrifying,” Dawoud said. He added that at least four Al-Dostour members were arrested during the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising. “We were part of the so-called roadmap,” he said, in reference to the roadmap announced by armed forces chief commander Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July. “If this is how they are being treated, it’s an alarming development.”

Belal said the prosecution “gave us a hard time” when they were asked to report the detainees’ accounts of their torture during the investigation. He added that the prosecution refrained from fully reporting on the accounts.

“The prosecution would say it’s not their job to report such accounts,” Belal said.

When asked about the torture allegations, the Ministry of Interior press office said it is up to the prosecution to investigate such allegations and issue its judgement accordingly.

Belal said the lawyers would report on the torture allegations to the prosecutor general, adding that he doubts the report will be fruitful.

“The prosecution is complicit with the Ministry of Interior in its violations against the detainees,” Belal said.

The 79 detainees are accused of joining a banned organisation (in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood), attacking security officials and protesting without notice. They had initially been in detention for 15 days before it was renewed on Sunday.

According to Dawoud, some of the arrests which took place during the uprising’s third anniversary were arbitrary.

Hany El-Fouly, a 20-year-old mechatronics student in the German University in Cairo, was randomly arrested by plainclothes policemen in front of his father’s office in downtown Cairo on 25 January. His sister, Laila El-Fouly, said her brother was not protesting during the time of his arrest.

El-Fouly is one of 228 detainees facing charges of: illegal assembly, protesting without a notice, possession of unlicensed explosives, exercising violence against public employees and joining a group which aims to stall the constitution, among other charges. Among the 221 who remain in detention, a group of the detainees were moved from Tora Prison to Abu Zaabal Prison, including El-Fouly.

Belal said he had received torture complaints from some of the abovementioned detainees. Their detention was renewed for 15 more days on Thursday, and an appeal session will be held on Wednesday.

Over 1,000 protesters were arrested during demonstrations marking the uprising’s third anniversary. Citing a number of unnamed detainees, a report published by human rights watchdog Amnesty International on Tuesday claimed that arrested protesters were subjected to beatings and torture through electrical shock.  The detained included men and women, both minors and adults.


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