CAIRO: The trial begins today of three police officers who a man alleges tortured him and illegally detained him, his wife and child.
Haitham Mohamedain, a lawyer with the Nadeem Center for the Rehabiliation of the Victims of Violence says that Shady Maged Saad Zaghloul was stopped by police officer Sherif Samir Ahmed Metwally on Oct. 14, 2007 while Zaghloul and a friend were walking in Vodafone Square, Sixth October City.
Metwally asked to see their ID cards and then demanded that they accompany him to the police station.
When Zaghloul, a 24-year-old law student at Cairo University, refused, Metwally slapped him on the face and punched him in the ear.
Zaghloul was detained and charged with drug dealing. On Oct. 17, 2007 he was brought before the public prosecution office which renewed his detention in custody for a further 15 days.
However, when the public prosecution office lawyers noticed injuries to Zaghloul’s body caused during the previous two days, they sent him to the forensic doctor for examination. He was then returned to the Sixth October City police station, where Zaghloul claims he was tortured.
Zaghloul alleges that his hands were bound to his feet behind his back and that he was suspended between two beds in the officers’ room via a pole placed between his arms and legs.
He says that police officers hit him on his back and soles of his feet using plumbing pipes and a wooden stick, causing back injuries and inflammation of his feet.
Zaghloul was brought before the public prosecution office again on Oct. 25, 2007 and was sent to the forensic doctor for a second time on Oct. 28, 2007. He was eventually released on Oct 31, 2007 and eventually cleared of the drug dealing charges on Feb. 3, 2009.
Zaghloul alleges that he has been subjected to intimidation by the police, including threats sent by the police in the form of text messages on his mobile phone.
He went to the public prosecution office to file a complaint about these threats on March 10, 2008, and was taken by the police – together with his wife Noha Mohamed, a 21 year-old nurse, and their infant daughter who was still breastfeeding at the time -from in front of the public prosecution building to the police station.
Zaghloul, Mohamed and their baby were held for four days in the police station in an attempt to pressure Zaghloul into withdrawing the complaint he had lodged against them.
According to Mohamedain, Zaghloul did eventually withdraw the complaint because of this intimidation. But he subsequently went back to the public prosecution office on April 5, 2008 and informed them of what had happened.
Police officers Sherif Samir, Ahmed Metwally, Hazem Beltagy Ibrahim and Ahmed Samir Shaban are charged with misuse of force and illegal detention. The first charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison while defendants convicted of the second face imprisonment of up to three years.
Under the Egyptian penal code individuals may only be tried for torture where it is carried out in order to extract a confession.