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Security forces responsible for Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh's death: HRW - Daily News Egypt

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Security forces responsible for Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh’s death: HRW

Analysis of video footage strongly indicates that a masked riot police officer shot Al-Sabbagh, says watchdog

Socialist Popular Alliance member  carries Shaimaa al-Sabbagh who was killed as police broke up their march in downtown Cairo, Egypt 24 January 2015
Analysed evidence of the fatal shooting of female protestor Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh incriminates a member of Egypt’s security forces

Analysed evidence of the fatal shooting of female protester Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh incriminates a member of Egypt’s security forces, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Sunday.

Al-Sabbagh, 32, was shot after police dispersed a protest of about two dozen people belonging to the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP) in Talaat Harb Square in Downtown Cairo on 24 January.

The international rights group believes that evidence gathered in the form of photographs, videos and witness statements prove that security forces are responsible for fatally shooting Al-Sabbagh with birdshot.

As part of the watchdog’s investigation into the incident, a video was released featuring Philippe Bolopion, who joined Human Rights Watch as United Nations Director in August 2010, analysing in detail a video footage of the shooting.

“Our analysts spent a lot of time looking at this video evidence frame by frame, we stabilized it; we zoomed in; we cross-referenced also still pictures that were taken on the scene within seconds of the shooting,” said Bolopion.

According to the video footage, four gunshots are heard. “The first two were fired in quick succession at the outset of the dispersal, with the third shot nine seconds later and the fourth shot seven seconds after that,” the watchdog said in its statement.

The analysis concludes that Al-Sabbagh was shot by the masked man in dark clothes who is seen in the video footage standing in the street beside a uniformed officer, identified as a police brigadier general.

“You can clearly see here this police officer getting into shooting stance, pointing his gun towards the protesters and then the shot rings and you can see the protesters here running away from the police and Shaimaa with her grey sweater falling to the pavement,” Bolopion explained as he showed the enhanced video in slow motion.

As the fourth and final shot was heard, Al-Sabbagh can be seen at the same moment lying on the sidewalk as a fellow member of her party, identified as Sayyid Abou Al-Ela from the video footage, tries to assist her.

Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat opened an investigation into Al-Sabbagh’s death the same day. In a statement, Barakat confirmed that all available evidence would be reviewed, and announced his commitment to “apply the law to everyone”.

HRW interviewed four eyewitnesses to the shooting who confirmed their testimonies, which were previously posted on various media platforms.

Interviewees include Azza Soleiman, lawyer and director of the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance; Osama Hammam, a photographer who was covering the protest, and Sayed Abul Ela, a party member.

The Qasr Al-Nil district prosecutor’s office, which is investigating the incident, has charged five witnesses, including Soliman, with violating the Protest Law and resisting the authorities.

Vice president of Al-Sabbagh’s party, 60-year-old Zohdy El-Shamy, who was present at the protest and went to the prosecutor to offer his testimony, was later arrested. El-Shamy was being questioned as a suspect for carrying a weapon to the protest.

El-Shamy was detained for almost 24 hours, but was alternated between the police station and the district prosecutor’s office for two days until his release on Sunday night, according to Ragia Omran, a lawyer who was present with El-Shamy during investigations.

“It is important to note that the prosecution did not charge El-Shamy with the murder of Shaimaa; he was only charged with carrying a weapon in his jacket pocket. However, after his home was searched by the National Security Investigations, it was found that there are no traces of cuts in the jacket and it was proven that it could not have been used to carry a weapon,” said Omran.

Omran added that it is “disgraceful and completely out of line to hold a 60-year-old man under arrest in that way; he was handcuffed with a police officer for three hours straight yesterday before his release.”

The SPAP filed submitted a list of demands yesterday to the prosecutor general. Demands included holding the Ministry of Interior responsible for Al-Sabbagh’s murder, and excluding the ministry from any investigations or procedures relating to the case.

The party also demanded that a judge independent from the prosecution be assigned to the case to ensure fair and impartial investigation.

A number of parties, including Al-Dostour, Al-Adl, and Al-Karama parties, as well as public figures like Hamdeen Sabahy, have all expressed their solidarity with the SPAP’s demands.

“Over the last few years, hundreds of people have been killed by the police in demonstrations in Egypt, and frankly you almost never get this type of evidence to document it and often have to rely more on eyewitnesses…The government should seriously investigate and hold the people responsible for this death accountable,” said Bolopion.

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  • Learned_Goyim

    What if Shamia were your sister, your cousin, your neighbour, would you still support the regime who allowed her killing?
    Unfortunately there are dozens, if not hundreds of Shaimas out there who had their lives cut too short, their limbs broken and scarred forever.
    The 2011 revolution seems too far gone when my Egyptian friends, rich and poor, secular and religious felt a sense of being proud to be Egyptian again after many years of dictatorship which robbed them from that sense.
    Politics can be tough and dirty even in thriving democracies but in the middle east it is particularly bloody. State violence can only breed more violence and unrest. This vicious circle will not subside until those who lend their moral support to those who are doing the killing are courageous enough to say NOT IN MY NAME.
    You can disagree with your fellow citizen on the direction of your country, but the very moment you think it is ok the kill your political opponents, you are dehumanizing your own life, making it easier for others to call for your own killing, when the tables turn.

    • Minymina

      Except that they didn’t. Check the guns in the video claimed by many to have killed her. None of them are capable of firing birdshots.

  • Minymina

    I’m sorry but since when did HRW have a forensic team? Egyptian security forces don’t use bird shots, they use teargas and rubber bullets. The video that filmed the the shooting proves it. The barrel of the guns are too wide to fire bird shots and are only capable of firing what I previously mentioned.

    • Learned_Goyim

      You see, this is part of the problem from an outside observer looking in. More often than not, apologists for brutal regimes in Egypt and elsewhere dispute minute details and get willingly or unwillingly entangled in the small picture while the bigger picture is lost in the distraction. The tree which hides the forest kind of analogy.
      The bigger picture is clear to any a rational person. Egyptian police have a little regard for human life of unarmed protesters; either due to lack of training or repressive orders from their superiors. Trust me when I said this from my personal experience when I socially interacted with some high-grade officers back in 2012. There are several documented incidents (herein) where protesters have been killed while in police custody, not to mention graphic documented torture.
      That being said, not even the government has absolved its forces yet from killing Shamia as the so-called investigation is still ongoing. Even Sissy implicitly let it slip when he called for the police “to consider human rights” after Shamia’s killing. He even described her as “his daughter” to appease her grieving family….And here you are defending the indefensible. I think you owe Shamia an apology for even questioning her killer (s) identity and motives. I hope you will never find yourself in a position where someone else thinks it’s ok to take your life because you disagreed with them on how to manage your country. Think about it; she was trying to lay flowers to commemorate the memory of those who gave their lives for you to come on line and exercise your freedom of expression.
      Do I believe Sissy’s sincerity? I think it is more like crocodile tears to me considering his record. But try not to be more of a Sissy and than Sissy himself.

      • Minymina

        If you are that ignorant and choose to ignore basic fact then you can go fuck yourself. I’m a gun enthusiast and can tell the difference between a birdshot rifle and a tear gas launcher. Any rational person with eye sight can. If you’re Egyptian or live in Egypt you would be aware of the fact that bird shots are quite common. I myself received a bird shot rifle when I was 14 from my uncle who trained me on its use.

        Anyone could have fired that shot. I severely doubt it was the security forces due to the weapons they were carrying and the ammo used (which is not used by the security forces). Also, Egyptian security forces aren’t stupid enough to fire at activists during the anniversary of the revolution.

        • Learned_Goyim

          “Also, Egyptian security forces aren’t stupid enough to fire at activists during the anniversary of the revolution.”
          It takes one to know one! How stupid is that statement! Have you not been following the news lately? Time to wean yourself off whatever you’re taking. It’s making you look ridiculous and delusional.
          So, you’re also a “gun enthusiast” huh?
          In where I am, we will call you a tea-bagger right-wing nut.
          Not a badge of honour!

          • Minymina

            I don’t own guns, I just have an interest in them. That doesn’t make me a “right-wing nut.”

            Everybody killed in the clashes of the anniversary was either killed by other protesters or the security forces as a result of self defence.

            Please explain to me how the 10 year old Mina died? I severely doubt he was opposing the military and supported the MB.

  • Learned_Goyim
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