CAIRO: The family of Mohamed Gomaa Hassan has accused police in Fayoum of torturing him to death after he passed away over the weekend from injuries sustained under unclear circumstances last month.
According to lawyers of Hassan’s family, he was detained by police and brought to Bandar Fayoum police station after arguing with officers in the street on Aug. 17.
While there, they say, he was beaten severely with shoes and whips by Lt. Col. Osama Gomaa and Captain Moataz Abdel Mongi. His brother found him unconscious on the pavement outside the station and rushed him to Fayoum Public Hospital.
At the hospital, the family was asked to file a police report. Fearing police, they claimed that they did not know what had happened to Hassan, says Taher Aboul Nasr, a lawyer for the family.
After being released from hospital, his health continued to deteriorate and he was brought to a specialist facility in Fayoum’s Mecca Hospital. There they were asked to file a second police report, and at that time claimed he had injured himself when he tripped and fell down the stairs.
At Mecca Hospital he was diagnosed with severe concussion, internal bleeding in his brain, and tearing of the liver and spleen. He remained in the hospital for several weeks and passed away over the weekend.
It was only after his death that Hassan’s family accused police in Fayoum of torture. Representatives of the family say that they were afraid of police reprisals if they filed a complaint against them, and their main concern while Mohamed was sick was paying for his treatment. Lawyers for the family also say that the officers who tortured Hassan offered to pay for his expensive treatment, which made his family think twice before charging them with a crime. “When the victim was sent to the hospital, his family did not make any complaints against the police officers because they are very poor, said lawyer Aboul Nasr. “They thought the case would end safely without any serious problems for anyone and they thought the police officers would pay for his treatment, which they did.
“They never thought he was going to die, he added. “His death is what brought the case to the surface.
Aboul Nasr says that the first two police reports filed by the family must be seen in the context of their poverty and fear of authorities.
“They were afraid of the police, he said.
The prosecutor’s office in Fayoum started an investigation into Hassan’s death, but Aboul Nasr foresees a long battle ahead. He said they have already had trouble moving the case forward.
The forensic examiner’s office in Fayoum issued a preliminary autopsy report for the victim shortly after his death, but the family angrily rejected their findings.
The forensic examiner, who is employed by the state in Fayoum declared that Hassan suffered from “no apparent injuries, even though he was diagnosed with severe internal injuries by doctors at Mecca Hospital.
Aboul Nasr says the case is additionally complicated because the officers accused of torturing Hassan, Osama Gomaa and Moataz Abdel Mongi, allegedly offered the family a sum of LE 150,000 to drop the case. He says the family refused the money and that it was quickly withdrawn once it was reported to the Fayoum prosecutor’s office.
Hassan’s case has become a morbidly familiar one in Egypt in recent years, say government critics, as more and more stories of men and women tortured and killed in the country’s police stations are revealed.
“Many people have died from torture over the last few months, said Dr. Magda Adly, the director of the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture. “It is a daily occurrence. Every day someone in our country dies or suffers a severe injury due to torture.