CAIRO: A deported French national who was detained by Egyptian security bodies for two months has alleged that he was tortured while in custody.
Arrested on April 21, 2009, 35-year-old Romauld Durand was returning from visiting his mother in France when he was stopped at Cairo airport. He was able to text his family to say that he had been arrested before disappearing.
Egyptian authorities initially denied holding Durand. They then acknowledged that he was in their custody but refused to reveal his exact whereabouts.
According to a statement issued by Amnesty International last week, Durand was held by border police at Cairo airport for two days before being transferred to the custody of State Security Investigations (SSI) in Nasr City, Cairo, where he remained until the end of May.
“Blindfolded and handcuffed throughout this period, Romuald Durand says that he was tortured and otherwise ill-treated during the first 10 days of his detention in the SSI facility in Nasr City, Amnesty reports in its statement.
“He reported being stripped naked and subjected to electric shocks while his arms and legs were tied, and stretched. He was slapped and stood upon, as well as forced to remain standing for hours.
“Romuald Durand says SSI personnel also threatened him with rape. He asked to contact the French consular officials, a right guaranteed in international law, but was told ‘Here, even if [French President] Sarkozy himself wanted to come, he couldn’t.’
“SSI personnel also threatened that Romuald Durand would face a military trial in Egypt without a defense lawyer, the statement continues.
Durand says he was interrogated about his contacts in Egypt, including people suspected by SSI of involvement in terrorism-related activities, and was questioned about his own conversion to Islam.
He was then taken to downtown Cairo’s Lazoghly state security investigations facility. While being held at Lazoghly, Durand alleges that he heard detainees being tortured with electric shocks.
In mid-June Durand was taken to the Interior Ministry’s passport and emigration office to arrange for his deportation. He then spent a week in the El-Khalifa prison, Cairo, before he and his wife and children left Egypt on June 22.