Jail deaths and kangaroo courts: another week in Egypt

Jail deaths and kangaroo courts: another week in Egypt
2 min read
27 Feb, 2015
Comment: Egyptian citizens leave police stations in body bags, while Mubarak regime figures leave court with their freedom. This is Egypt today, says Hossam el-Hamalawy.
Relatives of Abel Fattah react ater the activist was jailed for five years [AFP]

On Tuesday night, two prisoners died under torture in Cairo’s Matariya Police Station, their families claimed. Since July 2013, the neighbourhood has been the scene of almost weekly anti-coup protests that have repeatedly turned into bloody battles with the security forces, leaving scores dead.

Many have dubbed the local police station a torture factory. At least 10 people have died in its cells since 30 June 2013, according to Alkarama Foundation for Human Rights.

But citizens leaving police stations in body bags is hardly news in Sisi's Egypt. At least 226 have died in police custody since 30 June 2013, Alkarama says.

Hosni Mubarak's notorious police force, whose brutality was the main trigger for an uprising four years ago, was temporarily shaken in 2011, yet re-cemented gradually under the rule of SCAF, then Mohammed Morsi, and unleashed like hounds with Sisi's coup.

General Habib el-Adly, the 79-year-old who oversaw the police force under Mubarak, may breathe the air of freedom very soon, after being acquitted of corruption charges this week, on the heels of other non-guilty verdicts in trials related to the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising and abuse of power.

     Citizens leaving police stations in body bags is hardly news in Sisi's Egypt.

He awaits one final retrial set for 26 March on charges of money laundering, and it's very likely he'll be acquitted too.

This week also, Mubarak's former prime minister, Ahmed Nazif, was set free on Wednesday by the prosecutor investigating allegations of corruption invovling Nazif and Al-Ahram state-owned media giant, only one day after his acquittal from another package of corruption charges, together with Adly.

And it doesn’t stop there. Mubarak's former oil minister, Sameh Fahmy, was also acquitted from corruption charges, in a retrial about his role in selling gas to Israel at prices lower than the market rates, leading to loss of billions of dollars of Egypt's public wealth.

Police killings continue without accountability, while Mubarak's sons and henchmen are on the loose. Meanwhile, courts continue to quash dissent, sentencing revolutionaries like Alaa Abdel Fattah and others, to five years in prison and a large fine for holding a peaceful street protest.

Abdel Fattah is among the more than 40,000 Sisi opponents in jail, according to local rights watchdogs.

At the time of writing, calls are circulating among young lawyers to hold a mass meeting at their syndicate headquarters in central Cairo on Sunday.

The angry lawyers are calling for impeaching the head of the syndicate, a Sisi supporter, who is accused of failing to protect lawyers from police brutality and colluding with the government in the ongoing kangaroo courts.