Middle East

Egyptian beating victim blames police

Man dragged naked through streets of capital Cairo admits police were to blame, after earlier blaming protesters.
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2013 08:48
The incident was broadcast live on Egyptian television on Friday, sparking anger across the country [Al Jazeera]

An Egyptian man who was beaten and dragged naked through the streets of Cairo by police during a violent protest has admitted security forces were to blame, after earlier blaming protesters.

Mohamed Saber changed his story on Sunday, telling prosecutors that security forces harmed him, a day after he accused protesters of undressing and assaulting him.

The beating was caught on camera by the Associated Press news agency, and the video was broadcast live on Egyptian television on Friday, as protests raged in the streets outside the presidential palace.

The AP video showed police trying to bundle the naked man into a police van after beating him.

The beating prompted a rare statement of regret from the interior ministry, which promised to investigate the attack.

The president's office said it was pained by the images and called the assault "shocking''.

'Police beat me'

A new video emerged online Sunday of Saber in a hospital bed telling activists that police apologised for any wrongdoing. A male and female are heard urging him to speak honestly and not to accept any payments for absolving police in any abuse.

"After becoming a hero, I was being ridiculed online and on Facebook and being accused of not being a real Egyptian and of taking money"

- Mohamed Saber

Saber was receiving treatment at a police hospital when he told prosecutors that protesters undressed him during clashes, denying police assaulted him.

Later, speaking in a telephone interview to the Egyptian satellite channel al-Hayat, Saber said he changed his story to blame police after pressure from family and friends.

State prosecutors have since moved him to a public hospital.

"I said police are the ones who beat me,'' Saber tells the TV presenter.

"By the time I reached the armoured car, they had undressed me and my pants and were still dragging me.''

Saber said police were beating him and ordering him to stand up and that he was unable to because of a bird shot injury to his foot. He told the TV presenter he was scared to be arrested and thrown into the armoured vehicle.

Mohamed Saber said he initially gave incorrect testimony to try to avoid more problems [AFP]

Saber then said that his family, including his children, threatened to shun him unless he told the truth about the police attack.

"After becoming a hero, I was being ridiculed online and on Facebook and being accused of not being a real Egyptian and of taking money."

"I tell everyone at the presidential palace and Tahrir [Square] that I am sorry."

He said the officials at the police hospital treated him well, and that he was not pressured to distort what happened. He said he initially gave incorrect testimony to try to avoid more problems.

Mohammed Ibrahim, information minister, angered activists on Saturday, when he said that initial results of the state prosecutor's investigation showed that police were absolved of direct abuse and that protesters were the ones who undressed Saber.

The march on the palace on Friday evening, where President Mohamed Morsi was not present, was part of a wave of demonstrations in cities around the country called by opposition politicians, trying to wrest concessions from
Morsi after around 60 people were killed in protests, clashes and riots over the past week.


Al Jazeera and agencies
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