Rights group calls for investigation into mistreatment of 13 youths

Sarah Carr
4 Min Read

CAIRO: Lawyers from the Hisham Mubarak Law Center presented a complaint to the public prosecutor on Saturday requesting that an investigation be opened into police mistreatment of protestors arrested in Alexandria at the end of July in violation of both Egyptian domestic law and Egypt’s international human rights treaty obligations.

The complaint alleges that two state security investigations officers, Abdel Aziz Mahaba and Hesham El-Khateeb, were involved in the mistreatment as well as Ahmed Mekky, the head of investigations in the Raml No. 1 police station.

On July 23, members of the April 6 Youth Movement were singing patriotic songs and flying a kite made out of the Egyptian flag at the beach when they were arrested and detained for a week.

According to the complaint “tens of plain-clothed security officers led by Abdel Aziz Mahaba approached them and physically attacked and verbally insulted them. Mahaba then took them to the Raml No.1 police station.

Ahmed Afify, a member of the group, described the treatment they received to Daily News Egypt.

“When they detained us they made us lay down on the pavement on our stomachs, he said.

“They hit us with their walkie-talkies and swore at us, he continued.

The complaint goes on to say that the group of 13 also received humiliating treatment inside the police station, and were physically assaulted in the presence of Mahaba and El-Khateeb.

In addition, they were denied both lawyer representation and permission to contact their relatives during public prosecution interrogations.

According to Afify, they were told “the presence of a lawyer won’t make any difference by someone at the public prosecutor’s office.

The complaint states that the injuries they received during the police assault were not examined by a forensic doctor.

After being questioned by the prosecutor, they were taken to the transferal unit in Kom El Dekka where, the complaint states, they were detained in a small cell without food or water for nearly 24 hours.

The group were eventually released without charge on July 30.

Lawyer Ahmed Ragheb told reporters that the public prosecutor accepted the complaint and that it had been sent to Alexandria for investigation.

After presenting the complaint members of the April 6 Youth Movement then held a protest on the steps of the public prosecution office building in solidarity with relatives of the victims of the Al-Salam 98 ferry disaster, which claimed the lives of 1,034 Egyptians, mostly migrant workers.

The Al-Salam Boccaccio ferry sank in the Red Sea on Feb. 3, 2006 while headed towards Safaga from Saudi Arabia.

Last month on July 27, 2008 the Safaga misdemeanors court cleared ferry owner Mamdouh Ismail, his son Amr and three other Al-Salam Company executive of manslaughter charges.

During the demonstration, protestors asked where the survivors of the sunken ferry are, in reference to allegations that individuals who had survived the sinking but who subsequently disappeared were kidnapped to prevent them giving evidence during the trial.

“The problem is not just Mamdouh Ismail, it is the people who let him get away with his crimes: we want the people in power above to be brought to justice, a demonstrator said.

“When Mamdouh Ismail was found innocent, 14 Egyptian youths were being held in prison for singing patriotic songs, one of the protestors said

“Egyptians no longer have any value.

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Sarah Carr is a British-Egyptian journalist in Cairo. She blogs at www.inanities.org.
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