The disappearance of prisoners who appeared in a video documenting their torture in an Egyptian police station

Many families have lost contact with their relatives who are being held at the Al Salam Police Station since a video clip documenting the abuses inflicted on prisoners was published 10 days ago.

and in a report Published by the British Middle East Eye website, writer Shahinda Naguib says that Egyptians detained in the Cairo police station implicated in the torture scandal have lost any contact with the outside world, and this has raised fears that they will be subjected to enforced disappearance.

It is believed that dozens of detainees have been denied contact with their relatives, and a source told Middle East Eye that they believe that the detainees have been removed from the police station, and that they are ready to deny the allegations of torture they have been subjected to.

And last month, videos obtained by Middle East Eye spread that document the abuses of detainees at the hands of security forces in the Salam Awal Police Department, which is located in the poor neighborhood of Salam (southeast of Cairo). i” Specify the time the videos were shot.

The videos were widely distributed by Egyptian activists and Arab media outlets, and the detainees appeared in the video talking about the ill-treatment they were subjected to.

Middle East Eye edited an edited version of the videos, removing most of the footage and protecting the identities of those who testified about the abuse.

On Friday, eyewitnesses told Middle East Eye that security forces have imposed strict security measures in Al-Salam neighborhood in recent days, limiting civilians’ access to the vicinity of the police station.

When the videos were posted to Middle East Eye, a relative of detainees at the police station stated that he had lost contact with a member of his family for 10 days. “I was not able to contact him by phone or even by bribing the guards, and I was not able to visit him,” the source said.

The writer stated, quoting the source, that the police station allows relatives to bring food, clothes and medicine every Thursday, but they were not able to visit them for the past two Thursdays.

Another source, whose relative was also detained at the time the videos were published, stated that his relative “disappeared” although he did not appear in the videos, and the source and other families of the prisoners fear false accusations of drug possession or bullying, as they put it.

The families told Middle East Eye that they tried to file a complaint with the head of the investigation office, Major Ayman Fouad, “but he refused to meet us.” Ismail, a resident of Hay al-Salam, told Middle East Eye that “the police station has turned into a “military area After the videos were published, high-ranking officials from the National Security Agency came to the police station after these reports were released.

He added that many people were prevented from contacting their detained relatives, and were unable to provide them with food. He continued, “We are still hearing rumors of a possible cabinet reshuffle, and that the accused officers may be transferred because they are corrupt,” referring to the three men accused by the detainees of abusing them, They are Ahmed Badawi, Ali Kassab and Amr Ezzat.

Middle East Eye confirmed that the three officers are active police captains working in the center’s investigations office; It is reported that one of the accused officers denied the allegations, another officer refused to comment, while a third did not respond to MEE’s calls. The Ministry of Interior has yet to issue an official statement on what was revealed or open an investigation into the allegations of torture.

However, private newspapers quoted ministry officials as denying “the authenticity of what was circulated in two video clips on social media pages of a member of the Muslim Brotherhood residing abroad, in which he claimed that some detainees in a police station were tortured”; Officials have claimed that the footage was fabricated “with the intent of spreading rumors and lies”.

Social media and pro-government newspapers launched a campaign to defend the officers; Kassab even received an honor on behalf of the head of investigations from the pro-regime political party “Hekayat Watan”, most of whose members are former army and police officers.

The writer quoted a resident of al-Salam, who is close to the police station, that the videos spread widely and caused great hostility with the police, and although he could not confirm the disappearance of the prisoners, he said that their families had lost contact with them.

Middle East Eye understands that the authorities have begun preparing videos of detainees, forcing them to refute allegations of torture and ill-treatment.

Notably, Egyptian security services routinely broadcast videos of inmates making confessions as evidence before trial; Human rights groups have documented many cases in which these confessions were based on torture and intimidation of detainees into confessing to crimes they did not commit.

Escaping from the Punishment

Following reports of the leaked videos, pro-government social media groups circulated images claiming that the detainees were “ex-convicts” and “drug dealers”.

It is common in Egypt for the security services to accuse torture victims of drug use or trafficking, and in one of the most widespread cases; Police said Khaled Saeed, who was tortured to death 12 years ago, died as a result of swallowing a large can of hashish.

Dozens of leaked videos of mistreatment of prisoners and detainees in Egyptian detention centers have appeared on the Internet since 2008 and the use of phone cameras. Authorities rarely investigate these videos, and in many cases, politicians and pro-government media describe the videos as fabricated material intended to criticize the government.

In the first 11 months of 2021, the El Nadim El Masry Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture documented about 93 cases of torture in the police detention center, along with 54 deaths in custody.

The issue of torture in Egypt has become the subject of international controversy since an Italian parliamentary committee accused the Egyptian security service of kidnapping, torturing and killing Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo in 2016. An autopsy showed that he was tortured before his death.

Since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power in 2013, his government has been accused of overseeing the worst human rights crackdown in the country’s modern history, with thousands imprisoned, tortured and forcibly disappeared, while others have been forced to live in exile for fear of repression.

Al-Sisi justifies his crackdown as part of his government’s “war on terror,” but several rights groups have documented the government’s systematic use of anti-terror laws to prosecute his peaceful critics.

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