Monday, November 30, 2015

Egypt: In one week, three cases of torture & deaths in police custody


Ahram Online

Egypt policeman accused of torture, murder transferred from Luxor post

Saturday 28 Nov 2015

Media reports citing security sources have suggested that the policeman accused of torturing a man to death in Luxor earlier this week has been transferred from his post at the El-Awameya police station.

On Friday, hundreds marched across Luxor to protest the death of Talaat Shabeeb, with demonstrators chanting anti-police slogans and demanding the dismissal of the head of the El-Awameya police station where the victim was being held.

The prosecutor-general has opened an investigation into the case and the forensic authority has been tasked with determining the cause of death.

On Thursday, Luxor’s prosecutor-general ordered the release of 24 people who were arrested on Wednesday night after demonstrators clashed with police outside El-Awameya police station over Shabeeb’s death.

There have been unconfirmed reports on Saturday that Luxor Security Directorate officers will stage a vigil later tonight to offer condolences to Shabeeb’s family.

Security officials had said on Wednesday that the 47-year-old Shabeeb, a father of four, was arrested at a local El-Awameya café for the illegal possession of prescription painkillers, and had later fallen ill before being taken to Luxor International Hospital where he died.

In a press statement released shortly after his death, the head of Luxor security Essam El-Hamali claimed that Shabeeb was a drug dealer and had a criminal record.

Shabeeb's family, however, claims that Shabeeb was in fact arrested over a personal dispute with a policeman, and not for drug possession.

The family denied that Shabeeb was a drug dealer, stating that he worked as a papyrus vendor at Luxor's ancient temples.

Shabeeb’s family also claims that Shabeeb died at the police station, not the hospital, half an hour after his arrest.

A video and photos of Shabeeb's dead body have been released online by his family, showing what the family says are signs he sustained beatings before he died.

Ahram Online could not independently verify the authenticity of the footage.

The family also released a copy of what they say is a hospital medical report stating that Shabeeb was already dead upon arriving at the hospital.

The assistant to the interior minister for media and public relations, Major General Abu Bakr Abdel-Karim, has repeatedly stated that if any policeman is found guilty of wrongdoing, they will be held accountable.

Some locals in Luxor, Upper Egypt, have set up a Facebook page titled "We are Talaat Shabeeb."

Shabeeb’s case is the third in Egypt involving allegations of police abuse over the past week, with the latest involving an Ismailiya policeman who is accused of torturing a man to death while he was in police custody.

On Thursday, another police officer was detained in Greater Cairo for four days pending an investigation into allegations of assault and abuse of power. The officer is being accused of assaulting a bus driver in the satellite city of 6 October over a traffic dispute, as well as conducting a false arrest and filing a false police report accusing the driver of illicit drug possession.

Torture is prohibited by Egypt's 2014 constitution, with Article 52 stating that "torture in all its forms is a crime without a statute of limitations."

However, local and international rights group have said that torture by security forces remains prevalent in Egypt.

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