Amnesty urges Egypt to investigate torture claims

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By Agencies

CAIRO: Amnesty International called on Egyptian authorities Tuesday to investigate allegations that police tortured a young man to death in Alexandria and dumped his mutilated body into a canal.

According to the rights group, the family of Ahmed Shabaan said police officers beat him at the Sidi Gaber police station, which has been at the center of abuse allegations before.

Amnesty said the 20-year-old man went missing Nov. 7 and his body was recovered in a canal four days later.

Egypt’s interior ministry denied the allegations and said it has no record of police ever arresting Shabaan.

State-owned website said Shabaan and a friend, Ahmed Farag, had stolen a cell phone from a woman and that passersby were able to tackle Farag, but that Shabaan escaped.

“While the investigation was being conducted, Sidi Gaber station received a report that the corpse of a drowned man had appeared in the Mahmudiya canal, and it was determined the body was that of Ahmed Shabaan,” the news site reported.

His family said witnesses told them their son was taken to the Sidi Gaber police station and they were denied access to him when they tried to visit.

According to the Interior Ministry, a preliminary autopsy revealed no evidence that Shabaan was beaten.

Two officers from the same police station are being tried in the killing of another man, Khaled Saeid, who witnesses say was dragged out of an internet cafe by plainclothes officers and beaten to death on the sidewalk.

The government maintains that Saeid died of suffocation after swallowing a packet of drugs — a claim met with derision by many after photos were circulated on social networking sites showing Saeid’s body covered with bruises, his teeth broken and jaw smashed.

Said’s death become a rallying cry for groups campaigning against Egypt’s decades-old emergency law, which they say has led to abuses by the security forces.

The government says it does not condone torture, and that reported cases are isolated and offending policemen are punished.

Rights groups say torture is routine in the country.

Amnesty called on the government to ensure that Shabaan’s friend, Farag, would not be abused.

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