Egypt police accused of brutality

Human rights group says torture is widespread in prisons and detention centres.

    In Video

    Click here to watch Al Jazeera's report

    Fresh allegations of brutality have been made against police officers in Egypt, with one woman telling Al Jazeera that her son was beaten and then dragged through the streets.

    The allegations came as an Egyptian human rights group claimed torture was rife in the country's prisons.

    "May God curse anyone who hurts my son. I would rather they pluck out my eyes and blind me than take away my son," an Egyptian woman, mourning the death of her son Nasser, said.

    She claimed he was kidnapped and whipped by police officers before his body was dragged through the Al Bana suburb of Cairo.

    Another woman told Al Jazeera that officers broke down the door of her home in Cairo and threw her husband, Nasser Seddiq Gadallah, out of the window onto the street below.

    "They caught him, they didn't beat him," she said. "They threw him instead from the fourth floor. Four police officers stood outside the main door and stopped us from helping him."

    Officers charged

    Gad Sadiq Gadallah, his brother, said: "They broke into Nasser's apartment where he was with his wife and three children and four of them [police] picked him up and threw him off the balcony."

    "They broke into Nasser's apartment where he was with his wife and three children and four of them [police] picked him up and threw him off the balcony"
    "He landed outside. People saw it and rushed in. Some of them fought with police, who then fled the scene," the brother added.

    Three Egyptian policemen have been charged with Gadallah's murder after allegedly beating him to death before throwing his body from a fourth-floor window, a judicial source said on Thursday.

    Gadallah refused to withdraw a complaint that another policeman had allegedly stolen his mobile telephone and a small sum of money.

    The police response was that Gadallah died while trying to leap from his apartment window to another building in a bid to escape when they came to arrest him over a family dispute with a neighbour.

    Six other policemen suspected of involvement in the matter are also being sought, the source said.

    Torture 'widespread'

    According to a report released on Wednesday by the Egyptian Organisation of Human Rights, the abuse and torture of Egyptians by security forces has become increasingly common.

    EOHR's report, "Torture in Egypt: a Crime without Punishment," stated: "Torture in Egypt has become a widespread phenomenon inside police stations and state security detention centres, as well as in prisons with the aim of forcing confessions from suspects."

    Scenes of Imar al-Kabir's abuse
    were posted on the internet
    The report detailed 567 cases of torture by police in Egypt between 1993 and 2007, with 167 of them resulting in deaths.

    In July 2007 alone, the organisation recorded 26 cases of torture and two deaths.

    EOHR attributed the phenomenon to the presence of emergency laws in Egypt since 1981 that give police officers wide-ranging powers and allow them to operate with impunity.

    But one police official told Al Jazeera that such incidents are rare.

    "This is the result of an individual's action. It's not a general phenomena and the government won't tolerate it," General Nabil Luka said.

    In both cases this week, local residents said they had tried to stand up to the police.

    One resident said: "I caught one of the police officers and I beat him, but the others fled."

    These latest allegations come only four months after an Egyptian man gave a harrowing testimony in court, claiming he was raped and beaten by police.

    Scenes of Imar al-Kabir's torture were posted on the internet, and his high profile case was taken up by human rights groups.

    Gasser Abdel Razeq, Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, said: "It's rare you get all the information right after the incident takes place.

    "Usually people are tortured and die in police custody and it takes a long time for people to find out what happened."

    These latest allegations of police brutality may well give campaigners another reason to protest.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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