Police used expired, US-imported weapons against Jan. 25 protesters, says lawyer

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CAIRO: A civil rights lawyer volunteering for the prosecution in former interior minister Habib El-Adly’s trial said on Monday that the weapons and tear gas bombs included in the evidence and used during the revolution were imported from the United States and had expired in June 2010.

“Using expired weapons against civilians is an additional crime that should be added to the charges against the defendants,” lawyer Samir Helmy told Daily News Egypt.

Helmy was referring to the four guns that were revealed in court on Aug. 4 when the presiding judge examined the evidence.

He added that some of the tear gas bombs had no inscriptions on them.

However, lawyer Atef El-Menawy, representing former head of Cairo security, Ismail Al-Shair who is being tried alongside Al-Adly, argued that there is no such thing as “expired weapons.”

“This can be applied to tear gas canisters only,” El-Menawy told DNE.

Lawyer Ihab Ramzy, representing defendant ex-security chief Osama El-Marasy, echoed El-Menawy’s words. “There was no expiration date on the weapons.”

Ramzy, however, said that the weapons were imported from the United States.

“Most of Egypt’s weapons are imported from the United States,” he said, adding that it was “common knowledge.”

El-Menawy said that it’s still unclear whether these weapons were even owned or used by Egyptian security forces during the Jan. 25 revolt.

He explained that there’s a possibility that the weapons could have been stolen and used by infiltrators or thugs, even if it is proven that they belong to Egypt’s security forces.

On the other hand, Al-Shorouk daily newspaper quoted another defense lawyer Hafez El-Rahawan, as saying that Helmy’s claims served the defense team as evidence that the weapons may belong to infiltrators and not to Egypt’s security forces

El-Rahawan represents both El-Marasy and El-Adly’s former deputy in charge of the Central Security Sector General Ahmed Ramzy.

El-Rahawan added that some of the bullet shells had no inscription on them proving that they were “local’ and may not belong to the security forces.

The lawyers said that the court is yet to issue an order to the interior ministry to present a detailed list of the arms used by security forces during the 18-day uprising, to compare it with the weapons and shells included in the evidence.

They added that they had not yet watched the videotapes and CDs.

On Aug. 14, presiding Judge Ahmed Refaat vowed to set a specific date to view and make copies of the tapes and CDs, but no such date was set by the end of the hearing. The trial was adjourned to Sept. 5, where El-Adly’s and ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s will be joined.

In the second hearing, which was aired live on TV on Aug. 4, the judge examined the evidence which included four guns; the log books of the Central Security’s operation room detailing its strategy for quelling protesters and the weapons used; CDs of the pictures of injured protesters; and rubber bullet shells and pellets retrieved from the scene.

Defense lawyer Ihab Ramzy believed that the media and lawyers were placing too much focus on the weapons and bullet shells, when the documents included in the evidence were far more important.

“The documents include clear specific orders to use weapons against the protesters,” he said, adding that it wasn’t clear who gave the orders.

“My client had nothing to do with these shootings or orders,” he said, “But if all the defendants deny having given orders, then who did?”

Violent clashes between security forces and peaceful protesters during the first few days of the Jan. 25 uprising left at least 846 dead and over 6,000 injured, according to an official report by a fact-finding mission.



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