Egyptian police force detainees to deny being tortured

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Middle East Eye (MME) said that dozens of Egyptians detained in the Cairo police station implicated in the torture scandal have lost any contact with the outside world and are believed to have been deprived of contact with their relatives.

The British news website quoted sources saying that they believe that the detainees have been removed from the police station, and that they are being forced to deny the allegations of torture they were subjected to. This comes against the background of videos obtained by the MME  last month, which spread widely, and documented violations against detainees at the hands of security forces in the Al-Salam Awal police station. The detainees appeared in the videos talking about the ill-treatment they are subjected to.

The MEE said that eyewitnesses confirmed that the security forces imposed strict security measures in Al-Salam neighborhood, in recent days, which limited the access of civilians to the vicinity of the police station. A relative of a detainee stated that he had not been able to visit him, or contact him by phone, for 10 days. The news website reported, quoting its sources, that the police station allows relatives every Thursday to bring food, clothes and medicine to the detainees, but they were not able to visit their detained relatives for the past two Thursdays. Another source stated that his relative has disappeared, although he did not appear in the videos. The source and the families of other prisoners are afraid of false accusations of drug possession, in reference to what the Egyptian security services are used to in these cases.

The families of the detainees told the news website that they tried to file a complaint with the head of the investigation office, but he refused to meet with them. A resident of Al-Salam neighborhood reported that the police station had turned into a military zone, and that high-ranking officials from the National Security Agency came to the station, after the videos went viral.

The MME confirmed that the three officers whose names were mentioned in the videos, Ahmed Badawi, Ali Al-Kassab, and Amr Ezzat, are active police captains working in the police station’s investigation office. One of them denied the allegations, another declined to comment, and a third did not return calls.

The Ministry of Interior has not yet issued an official statement regarding what was revealed or opened an investigation into it. Meanwhile, Interior Ministry officials, citing Egyptian newspapers, claimed that the footage was fabricated with the aim of spreading rumors and lies. Pro-government newspapers launched a campaign to defend the officers. Al-Kassab was even honored by the pro-regime political party, Hikayat Watan, whose members consist mostly of former army and police officers.

The MEE reported that they have information that security authorities have begun preparing videos of detainees denying allegations of torture and ill-treatment. Egyptian security services routinely broadcast videos of inmates making confessions, but rights groups have documented numerous cases in which these confessions have been based on torture and intimidation.