CAIRO: Osama Othman, an orphanage manager accused of torturing and beating orphans, was arrested Monday afternoon, according to Youm7.
Early Sunday a video spread on social media that many believe features Othman, and caused public outrage, as it showed a man beating a group of young children with a wooden stick and kicking them in their stomachs. The children were crying and screaming.
The video was uploaded to Youtube by Othman’s wife Elham Eid, who also worked as a manager at the Dar Mecca orphanage, according to comments she made in a video published by Youm7.
In response to the video, outcries from regular citizens and media personalities called on the Ministry of Solidarity, responsible for overseeing charities and NGOS, to take action against Othman and the orphanage. A few hours later, security forces raided the orphanage, and Giza Governor Ali Abdul Rahman ordered the dissolution of Dar Mecca’s board of directors, and for a temporary administrative committee to be assigned in their place for the next three months.
Minister of Solidarity Ghada Waly ordered the formation of a committee from the ministry to start transferring the children to other orphanages, and the immediate dissolution of its board of directors. Thirteen children between ages 2-5 were transferred Sunday evening to two other orphanages after the ministry ordered the close of Dar Mecca.
The video that sparked the controversy was recorded a year earlier according to Eid, who said she was waiting for the “right moment” to publish it because she was already working on transferring the children to a different organization, according to her Youm7 interview.
But on Facebook, posters demanded she also be charged along with her husband for allegedly covering up child abuse for at least a year.
“She is no less a criminal than he is, she has to be charged, and her new orphanage permit must be cancelled,” said Facebook user Dahlia Samy.
Lawyer Nader Mohamed, a former member of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, told The Cairo Post Monday, “The wife could be charged for covering up child abuse, and could be punished for it.”
The government has also received criticism for being unaware of the alleged abuse occurring at Dar Mecca.
Azza Ashmawy, head of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, said in a press statement that the Ministry of Solidarity is responsible for “the humanitarian catastrophe that occurred in Dar Mecca orphanage.”
Attorney General Hisham Barakat referred Othman to criminal court. In a statement, Barakat said that Othman, under the Penal Law and the Child Protection Law, could be sentenced to three years in jail.
Barakat ordered the prosecution to send the children to the health inspector to be examined, and said the evidence against Othman provided by the video is definitive proof of his guilt.