Rights group criticizes delay of police officer trial

Sarah Carr
4 Min Read

CAIRO: The trial of a police colonel who allegedly physically assaulted a man with learning disabilities is being unnecessarily hampered by the public prosecution office, a rights NGO said.

The Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence said that there is a “real risk that colonel Akram Suleiman will escape justice for his alleged July 2008 assault of Ragai Sultan.

Sultan, who is in his late 40s and has an IQ of 50, was arrested while walking on Alexandria’s Corniche.

Sultan spent three days in intensive care after suffering a broken rib and shoulder, a fracture in the neck and bleeding in the brain which necessitated surgery. His family allege that Suleiman caused Sultan’s injuries while the latter was in police custody.

The police colonel meanwhile alleges that Sultan’s injuries were caused when he “fell while running away from the police.

Public prosecution office investigations began in July 2008.

On May 5, 2009, Sidi Gaber prosecution office recommended to El-Sharq prosecution office that Suleiman be tried on charges of using force against Sultan and causing permanent bodily harm.

The first offence carries a maximum prison sentence of one year, while individuals convicted of the second offence face imprisonment of between three and five years. The maximum penalty increases to 10 years when the crime is premeditated.

El-Sharq prosecution office approved the charges leveled against Suleiman, and sent the charge sheet to the attorney general of the Alexandria appeals public prosecution office for an opinion.

On May 10, the prosecution office head recommended that the inquiry be resumed, thereby delaying the start of the trial.

He sent the file to the Marsa Matrouh public prosecution office and ordered it to summon three policemen, El-Sayyed Attiya Ibrahim, Mahmoud Abdel Aaty Mohamed and Mohamed Mohamed Abbas, for questioning.

According to the Nadim Center, the policemen had been summoned to give evidence during the Sidi Gaber public prosecution inquiry on more than one occasion, but did not show up.

Nadim lawyer Mohamed Abdel Aziz alleges that the decision to summon the three policemen will “delay the inquiry for an unacceptably long period of time . particularly given that the policemen’s failure to appear before the public prosecution office for questioning was a way of delaying the investigation.

Abdel Aziz added that the questioning of the three officers is unnecessary.

“The inquiry has gathered all the prosecution evidence necessary to prove the defendant’s guilt and the resumption of the inquiry represents an opportunity for the defendant to pressure both witnesses and the victim, Abdel Aziz told Daily News Egypt.

“The tarrying of the investigation through the decision of the Alexandria public prosecution head presents a real risk that the defendant will escape punishment, especially given that he is a high-ranking police office who is currently head of weapons licensing within the Alexandria security directorate,

“He is as a result well-connected, and in a position to apply all kinds of pressure which will allow him to escape justice.

Nadim lawyers will present a complaint about the decision to resume the inquiry at Marsa Matrouh on Saturday.

Rights groups allege that the failure to prosecute police officers accused of violations accounts for what they say is a systematic pattern of torture and abuse in Egyptian police stations and places of detention.

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