ALEXANDRIA: Lawyers for a man severely beaten while in police custody say that they are confident that a guilty verdict will be handed down after Thursday’s court session, during which a forensic doctor was cross-examined.
“The forensic report and the testimony given by the forensic doctor today is incontrovertible evidence of the defendant’s guilt, lawyer Abdel Aziz Ghoneim told Daily News Egypt.
Karam Shehata Mahrous, head of Alexandria’s Forensic Medicine Directorate, said during the cross-examination that head injuries received by 47-year-old Ragai Sultan in July of last year could have only been inflicted by a blunt object.
Earlier this week, defense lawyers for police colonel Akram Suleiman told the court that Sultan’s injuries were caused when he fell down the stairs while attempting to escape arrest on Alexandria’s corniche.
Suleiman says in police reports concerning the incident that Sultan – who has a mental age of around nine – was detained because he was “walking in the company of a woman wearing tight clothes who he planned to have sex with for money.
Sultan accuses Soleiman of attacking him while he was in his custody in Alexandria’s security directorate.
Sultan spent three days in intensive care after the incident, suffering a broken rib and shoulder, a fracture in the neck and bleeding in the brain which necessitated surgery.
Mahrous was asked by defense lawyers whether the injuries caused by an individual colliding with a solid object at a high speed would be the same as those caused by a collision at walking pace.
Mahrous told the court that the two injuries would differ, but added that “the question has nothing to do with the victim’s injuries. They could only have been caused by a blunt, rectangular object, not for example by someone running into a wall.
Defense lawyers then asked whether in his opinion the blows inflicted on Sultan came from behind or in front of him.
Mahrous appeared to become slightly agitated by the question, responding, “they could come from any direction. When someone gets hit on the head they don’t stand there and say, ‘hit me some more,’ they move their head.
Sultan’s lawyers – who have filed a LE 10,001 civil compensation claim for the injuries he suffered – questioned the forensic doctor about the effects of the five-hour gap between the time Ragai was arrested, and when he was admitted to hospital.
Mahrous explained that head injuries generally produce one of two effects; either the injuries are immediately apparent in the victim’s behavior or there is a delay before the blood mass which forms in the brain makes its presence felt.
He emphasized that the effects vary from person to person and according to the seriousness of the injury.
Standing in the dock, Suleiman was particularly animated during Thursday’s session, shouting out instructions in a loud whisper to one of his lawyers while another defense lawyer spoke.
Questioning by Suleiman’s lawyers focused on attempting to uncover discrepancies in the forensic report and shortcomings in his medical treatment.
They repeatedly asked Mahrous when exactly the operation to treat the blood hemorrhaging in Sultan’s brain was carried out at the Al-Miry hospital to which he was first admitted, seemingly implying that the operation had not been performed soon enough.
“He was only there for one day and they did it while he was there – how much quicker do you want? Mahrous replied.
Defense lawyers then focused on who had performed the surgery, questioning whether it could have been carried out by a junior doctor without the necessary qualifications to undertake such surgery.
Mahrous told the court that the surgery was carried out in the neurology department and that only specialists perform this type of operation. He added that scans carried out after the operation revealed that the surgery had been a success.
Defense lawyers again requested that two eyewitnesses be called to give evidence at the next court session.
Ghoneim told Daily News Egypt that even if these witnesses testify that someone other than Suleiman assaulted Sultan, such evidence would not reduce the likelihood in his opinion that Suleiman will be found guilty.
“According to the defendant’s own testimony he arrested Ragai, who he says fell, and was then taken to hospital. From the moment Suleiman arrested Ragai he was responsible for what happened to him.
The trial was adjourned to Nov. 7, allegedly because chief defense lawyer Gamal El-Swed has the flu.