CAIRO: Members of the Shoura Assembly demanded that the government begin the process of extraditing American troops who killed an Egyptian in the Suez Canal so as to be prosecuted in an Egyptian court.
In a session that took place Sunday night – chaired by NDP Secretary General and Shoura Council Speaker Safwat El-Sherif – members demanded an open trial for those responsible and spurned US apologies over the incident.
An American cargo ship contracted by the US navy, the “Motor Vehicle Global Patriot , opened fire on Egyptian boats in the Suez Canal last Monday. The ship opened fire with tracer bullets killing Mohamed Fouad Afifi, 27, and injuring two others.
Even members of the ruling NDP questioned the circumstances surrounding the incident, with NDP bloc leader Mohamed Ragab questioning why the ship was allowed to leave after the shootings took place, according to Al-Mesryoon electronic news portal.
Although US reports initially denied that anyone had been killed, later on the US expressed regret over the death of Afifi.
“President Bush expressed his deep regret and sympathies for the incident in the Suez Canal and said the United States will fully investigate this, White House national security council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
Yet the Shoura council members are calling for an Egyptian investigation, not an American one.
MPs in the executive Peoples’ Assembly have also raised the issue in their house, calling for answers over the incident.
Muslim Brotherhood MP from Suez Saad Eldin Khalifa told Daily News Egypt, “When we raised this in the assembly we asked the government to detain the ship, but the ship left. The government said a military investigation is being conducted and we confirmed this.
“The bullets used by the Americans are banned worldwide and they removed eight pieces from Afifi’s body and there are more but until now we don’t know what’s going on, he added, “They exhumed his body only after our calls. We don’t know in which direction this investigation is continuing.
Khalifa said, “Will they hold the Americans responsible? I doubt it. We are waiting to see the results of the investigation. We will not leave this man’s rights and Egyptian blood cannot be shed like this.
Ragab reportedly said at the Shoura session, “We refuse Bush’s apology and we want to know the procedures the government intends to take to prevent this American arrogance from happening again.
Head of the opposition Tagammu party Rifaat Al-Saeid said sardonically, “kill a flea, then apologize, that is the American slogan implemented in more than one place around the world.
“Egyptian ports are not open fields for gunfire, MENA quoted foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit as saying in response to the shootings. “We are upset by this incident, which is unacceptable, and we are waiting to see the results of the military prosecutor to get a complete idea of what happened.
But Al-Saeid was not satisfied with the military investigation. “Does the military prosecutor investigate the victim or the ones who left regional waters? We do not trust the military judiciary and we must protect the rights of the Egyptian citizen.
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Mufid Shehab was present at the session to represent the government, defending it from any shortcomings in the investigation. He added that the US is to present the findings of its own investigation to the Egyptian authorities.