CAIRO: A policeman is facing prosecution on charges of shooting and seriously wounding a man in what lawyers describe as unjustified use of firearm.
The policeman, Rabie Abdel Halim, is being charged under Article 240 of the Penal Code which lays down a prison sentence of between three and five years for physical injury caused to others which results in the loss of an organ or permanent disability.
Lawyers have “tentatively welcomed the legal charges brought against Abdel Halim and hold the minister of interior responsible for the incident.
The Group for Human Rights Legal Aid (GHRLA) cited “numerous threats made against the victim’s family by the police – including the physical assault of his 14-year-old brother – in an attempt to force them to withdraw the charges.
In a public prosecution office report, microbus driver Emad Hamdy Wazir alleges that on Oct. 8, 2005, at around midday, he fled from a bus station after seeing a police car arrive.
According a GHRLA statement released earlier this week, the police car was part of a police raid on the bus station, and that Wazir and others fled “out of fear of police aggression, a case being fabricated against them, and violation of their dignity.
According to the public prosecution office report, Wazir alleges that he fled into a side street and was pursued by policeman Rabie Abdel Halim who was holding his firearm in his hand. Abdel Halim then shot him in the back at a 1.5 meter range after Wazir failed to obey his orders to stop.
Abdel Halim confirms that he pursued Wazir down the side street and says in the public prosecution office report that he had his gun in his right hand “so that he didn’t drop it.
Diverging from Wazir s version of events, Abdel Halim says that he was able to stop Wazir, grabbing his left arm and putting it in an arm lock while still holding his firearm in his right hand.
He then alleges that Wazir twisted his body round and grabbed Abdel Halim s gun, in response to which Abdel Halim pulled the firearm from Wazir s hand, during which a bullet was fired which entered Wazir s back on the left-hand side.
Wazir was admitted to hospital where his spleen was removed, as well as 10 cm of his colon. A colostomy was also performed. He was discharged a week later.
Wazir was readmitted to hospital on Nov. 20, 2005, in order to close the colostomy. X-ray images revealed multiple fluid levels in the intestines, indicating an intestinal obstruction.
The forensic report confirms that Wazir s injuries are consistent with a gunshot wound, but makes no mention of whether they were caused by a bullet fired at close or long-range.
This case is the latest in a series of prosecutions involving police shootings; in March a low-ranking policeman was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment after he fatally shot a man in the neck after an altercation over a driving license in one of Port Said s public squares.
A verdict is expected on May 26 in the case of an off-duty police man who shot a man dead in Mohandiseen, Cairo, after a fight over a parking space.
GHRLA hold the interior ministry “fully responsible for the “nonchalance with which police officers use fatal force without justification under the law.