Public outrage over death of man following police brutality
police brutality - YOUM7(Archive)
By AMIRA EL-FEKKI

CAIRO: The results of the autopsy of Ezzat Abdel Fatah, 54, who died in the Matariya police station Thursday will be released at the end of the month, however photos of his body have gone viral, and show what his family and activists say are marks of torture.

Although the final analysis of the autopsy may take a few weeks, the head of the Forensic Medicine Authority, Hisham Abdel Hamid, told Youm7 Saturday there were injuries in several parts of Abdel Fatah’s body when it was received.

A few hours after his death, images of Abdel Fatah’s body spread on social media, showing injuries on his head, neck, legs and feet, as well as displaying cigarette burns. The photos were released by one of the victim’s relatives, Youm7 reported on Friday.

Abdel Fatah was taken into police custody on May 3, according to press statements made by his family. They said after he intervened to solve a conflict between two quarreling neighbor families, a police officer who was an acquaintance of one of the families began to argue with him.

The police officer allegedly threatened Abdel Fatah, and accused him of setting a family’s house on fire, according to the victim’s wife, who spoke to al-Wafd.

“The police ordered his detention for four days pending investigations. I visited him the next two days at the police station,” his wife told al-Wafd on May 10. “He hesitantly whispered to me that he was being tortured,” she added.

Abdel Fatah’s wife added that on the following days she was denied visitation, and was asked to leave the station by the officers. She never saw him again until her son received a phone call from a neighbor informing him of his death.

The Matariya Prosecution Authority is investigating the circumstances of the death of Abdel Fatah, who was an employee at the Ministry of Finance.

Torture allegations

“We had a nervous breakdown when we saw the traces of torture on my husband’s body. There were cigarette burns on his back, severe injuries on his neck and head, his toenails were ripped off and his face was swollen,” his wife told al-Wafd.

Abdel Fatah’s wife added the hospital claimed Abdel Fatah was dead upon his arrival to the hospital. She said he was left by a police officer, “who left him there without any further notification.”

Abdel Fatah’s brother told al-Wafd he went to the Ministry of Interior to file a lawsuit but was referred to the Ministry’s human rights department and was told to bring more evidence. Moreover, the family claimed they were being pressured by the police to sign a report that listed a diabetic coma as Abdel Fatah’s cause of death.

Social media users immediately compared Abdel Fatah’s story to the infamous case of 28-year-old Khaled Said, which sparked the protests against the Ministry of Interior in 2010 and was one of the motivating factors people took to the streets on Jan. 25, 2011, the national police day in Egypt.

Said died under similar circumstances in a police station in Alexandria, after being beaten to death by police officers, who claimed he had choked after swallowing drugs, which was corroborated by the forensic medicine report.

Pictures of Said’s body showing evidence of torture went viral, launching investigations into his case. In March 2014, two police officers were sentenced to 10 years in jail for arbitrarily detaining a citizen and killing him.

Similarly, Abdel Fatah’s family said the police told them he died from “low blood pressure,” which the Forensic Medicine Authority denied last Saturday.

Detainees in Egyptian prisons have reported they are subject to torture, including beating, electrocution and sexual assaults, in addition to the overcrowded conditions. Sixteen human rights organizations signed a joint statement in February, following testimonies of those who had been detained following the third anniversary of the January 25 Revolution.

The Ministry of Interior publicly denied systematic torture practices on prisoners and invited human rights groups to inspect prisons, granting authorization to the state-affiliated National Council for Human Rights.

Investigations are pending on the case, and the Ministry of Interior has not yet issued an official comment.

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