The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
Many cases but same old charge
Report on the arrest campaigns against members of the Muslim Brothers
Cairo, 12 January 1999
The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights issues its first report of 1999 under the title "Many cases but same old charge". The report is published as part of EOHR's work in defense of the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and to peaceful assembly. The report deals with the arrest campaigns carried out by the authorities against members of the banned Muslim Brothers Group, which due to their frequency have become a traditional practice and a common source of violations.
The EOHR followed with deep concern the arrest of scores of members of the Muslim Brothers in many governorates of Lower Egypt(1) during the second half of 1998. Following their arrest, they were referred to the Higher State Security Prosecution for investigations. They were questioned in connection with several law suits and placed in preventive detention on one charge, i.e. joining an illegal group that was established in contravention of the law. However, the state still continues its policy of impeding the legal recognition of this group, as well as of other political forces such as the communists, even though these forces occupy a space in civil society in Egypt and participate in many of its activities besides the legal political forces. It must be noted that all attempts made by these forces to exist within the legal channels by establishing legal political parties were thwarted by the state's rejection and the restrictions imposed on the right to set up political parties in Egypt.
The report is divided into two parts. The first reviews a number of aspects related to the arrest and interrogation of members of the Muslim Brothers, while the second focuses on the arrest campaigns that took place in various Egyptian governorates, and provides a list of names of those arrested and the violations that accompanied their arrest and interrogation. The report concludes with a number of recommendations for the defense of the rights to peaceful assembly, and to set up associations and political parties. It also calls for a stop to all forms of ill-treatment and torture in State Security Investigations (SSI) offices and other places of detention.
The EOHR issues this report in the hope that it will help spur Egyptian civil society institutions and political parties, intellectuals, and others, to work together in defense of the right of all citizens to personal safety regardless of political, ideological or religious beliefs; freedom of opinion and expression; peaceful assembly; and for a stop to the practice of torture in SSI offices and other places of detention. It also hopes the report will urge the Egyptian government to take prompt and serious steps to stop these violations which threaten the situation of human rights in Egypt.
First: Main features of the arrest operations against members of the Moslim Brothers
Based on the information gathered by the EOHR, the arrest and questioning of those accused of belonging to the banned Muslim Brothers share a number of common features.
1. The Charges
Those accused of belonging to the Muslim Brothers are referred to the State Security Prosecution and face the same old charge of "belonging to an illegal group [the Muslim Brothers], that was established against the law; possession of books and leaflets that promote the group's ideas, spur hatred for the ruling regime and spread unrest in the country, …" The wording of these accusations is always flexible and the charges are not supported with material evidence. On the contrary, they are always denied by the accused and are known to have been used frequently against members of all opposition trends.
Similar charges have been brought against large numbers of persons accused of belonging to the Muslim Brothers. The case normally ends with the accused in preventive detention upon orders by the High State Security Prosecution, or with their detention and questioning by the SSI and their subsequent release without having been presented before the prosecution, as will be shown in this report.
However, the issuance of imprisonment sentences against members of the Muslim Brothers Group for such accusations took place when the cases were referred to military courts. This raises strong doubts about the legal credibility of these charges and implies the existence of political motivations behind them. This is particularly true as the persecution of members of this group by referring them to military courts comes in contravention to the authorities' claims that these courts only hear cases of violence and terrorism.
In this respect, it may be noted that before the 1995 legislative elections, 49 defendants were referred to the Higher Military Court in case no. 8/1995- Military Criminal. The court ordered the imprisonment of 34 of them to terms ranging from three to five years. In November 1995, another case was heard with the same charges, case no. 11/1995-Military Criminal, involving 33 defendants members of the Muslim Brothers. The military court ordered the imprisonment of twenty to terms ranging between three and five years. Those who received the maximum of five years with hard labor were all public figures, parliament members, university professors, young researchers, union leaders, professionals, prominent businessmen. Their sole charge was that they were coordinating efforts to run together in the parliamentary elections!
Also, when some members of the Muslim Brothers wanted to set up a legal political party - Al-Wasat - thirteen of them were referred to the military court in case no. 5/1995. Eight of them received imprisonment sentences. In the end, the attempt to set up the party was thwarted by the rejection of the Political Parties Committee of the People's Assembly.
The trial, which was followed by EOHR observers, started on 15 June 1996 and lasted nine sessions in addition to the session in which the court pronounced the ruling. At the first session, the defendants refused the presence of defense lawyers on the claim that this was a political trial and that the rulings had been made in advance. The court appointed defense lawyers who asserted to the EOHR representative that the case did not include any charges upon which the defendants should be tried. They also argued that the case should not be heard as it had been decided in cases no. 8/11 of 1995-Military, in which 82 Muslim Brothers leaders were involved. They added that there was no evidence in the case that the defendants had committed any crime, and the only evidence presented was a videotape which recorded the movement of citizens in Suk Al-Tawfekyya St., location of the former office of the Daawa magazine, and that that same videotape had been presented in previous trials.(2)
Muslim Brothers and military trials
Case Date of ruling No. of defendants Imprison-ment Acquittal Notes 8/95-Military Criminal 23/11/95 49 34 15 Imprisonment from 3 to 5 years 11/95-M.C. 23/11/95 33 20 12 + 1 not accepted Imprisonment from 3 to 5 years 13/95-M.C. 30/11/95 3 2 1 Imprisonment for 15 years 5/6/96-M.C. 14/8/96 13 8 5 Imprisonment from 1 to 3 years Total 98 64 34
2. Seasonal arrests
The arrest campaigns are always more intense at certain times, such as before elections, be they general, union, or student elections. Here it must be noted that case no. 8/1995-Military Criminal was heard before the legislative elections of 1995 and resulted, as mentioned above, in imprisonment sentences. In its 1997 annual report, the EOHR said that with the local councils elections approaching, the security forces launched a broad arrest campaign against Muslim Brothers members. They were interrogated by the SSI, who questioned them about the activities of the group in Ramadan and about whether they would participate in the local elections. They were then released without being referred to the State Security Prosecution.
3. The 'visitors of dawn'
The policy of the authorities is to conduct the arrests always after midnight. State Security Investigations (SSI) forces break into the houses, search them and deliberately create a climate of fear and intimidation. In one of the cases included in the present report, that of Sheikh Khayri Rakwa, a large number of members of the security forces went to his home, intimidating his family and blatantly violating their right to personal safety and the inviolability of private life.
4. Torture and ill-treatment
Those arrested are then taken to an SSI office before being referred to the prosecution. During their interrogation by the SSI officers, they are subjected to ill-treatment and torture in order to force them to give information or to make a confession. Even after being referred to the prosecution, they are redetained in the SSI offices, where they are once again ill- treated and tortured. The present report includes practices that took place in the SSI office of Gaber Ibn Hayyan, in Giza.
These practices are a violation of the provisions of the law, the Constitution and international human rights standards ratified by the Egyptian government. Article 42 of the Constitution states that: "Any person arrested, detained or his freedom restricted shall be treated in the manner concomitant with the preservation of his dignity. No physical or moral harm is to be inflicted upon him. He may not be detained or imprisoned except in places defined by laws organizing prisons. If a confession is proved to have been made by a person under any of the aforementioned forms of duress or coercion, it shall be considered invalid and futile." Also, article 57 of the Constitution states that: "Any assault on individual freedom or on the inviolability of private life of citizens and any other public rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the law shall be considered a crime, whose criminal and civil lawsuit is not liable to prescription. The State shall grant a fair compensattion to the victim of such an assault." In addition, article 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code states that: "No one shall be arrested or detained unless upon an order by the legally competent authorities. Those arrested shall be treated in the manner that preserves their dignity and should not be physically or psychologically hurt."
Also, article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel inhuman or degrading punishment ..." Article 4 of the Covenant states that this right cannot be disregarded even in public emergencies which threaten the life of the nation. In addition, article 2 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment states that: "… 2- No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."
The Egyptian government ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1982, and the Convention Against Torture in 1986. By virtue of article 151 of the Egyptian Constitution, all ratified covenants and treaties become "an integral part of the national legislation". In case of contradiction, their provisions shall overrule any provision in the national laws in accordance with the rule of jurisprudence that says that "the new overrules the old". However, in spite of their ratification, the Egyptian government did not take the legal procedures necessary to amend the national provisions which are inconsistent with the provisions of the Covenant and the Convention. Further, it did not even take the practical measures that would compel law enforcement officials to observe legal safeguards for detainees and prevent them from resorting to torture and ill-treatment.
5. Detention without grounds
Those held in preventive detention pending investigations are put in jail in spite of the availability of many guarantees for their release, such as that their places of residence and work are well-known, particularly given that the majority are teachers, engineers, doctors, students, etc. Some of the cases included in this report even gave themselves up to the SSI. The EOHR fears that preventive detention has become the rule in contradiction to Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states in paragraph three: "… It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and should occasion arise, for executing of the judgement."
Second: Arrest campaigns against members of the Muslim Brothers
The following part of the report includes the circumstances surrounding the arrest and interrogation of scores of members of the Muslim Brothers over the second half of 1998. Although some have been released, the majority are still being held in preventive detention in Mazrait Tora Prison. It also includes some information on the irregularities committed by the State Security forces against them.
At the dawn of Friday, 2 October 1998, an SSI force arrested Sheikh Wagdi Abdel-Hamied Ghoneim, preacher at an Alexandria mosque and secretary general of the association of commerce graduates in Alexandria. He was taken to the deportation department and referred to the High State Security Prosecution the following day. He was accused of showing contempt for state officials in a sermon and promoting misleading rumors that would threaten public peace and security. The prosecution ordered his imprisonment pending investigations in connection with case no. 820 of 1998-High State Security. He was then taken to Mazrait Tora Prison. His detention was extended until the last renewal session, to be held on 10 November 1998, where it was decided the continuation of his imprisonment for one further month provided that he be referred to the Chamber of Consultation. He was released in the first week of December without being referred to the Chamber of Consultation. The EOHR learnt that the Egyptian authorities prevented him from travelling in the first week of 1999 to attend an Islamic conference in the United States.
In Kafr Al-Sheikh governorate, a force of the SSI arrested 16 members of the Muslim Brothers Group from Sidi Ghazi, Al-Hamoul, and Dosouk. They were referred to the SSI upon the accusation of joining an illegal group that was founded in contradiction to the law [the Muslim Brothers], which aimed to obstruct the implementation of the Constitution and the law, disturb public peace and resist the authorities. The State Security Prosecution ordered their imprisonment pending investigations.
In Dosouk, on 23 August 1998, the SSI arrested five members of the Muslim Brothers Group. They were referred to the prosecution upon the above mentioned accusations. The prosecution ordered their imprisonment for four days pending investigations in relation to case number 6363 of 1998-Administrative, Dosouk. Those arrested were:
- Abdalla Abdel-Rahman Sallam, aged 35, teacher
- Khalid Mohamed Misbah, aged 32, teacher
- Mohamed Abdel-Maguid Al-Sonbaty, aged 35, civil servant
- Mohamed Ahmed Mahfouz, aged 32, teacher
- Mohamed Awad Mohamed, aged 33, teacher
The SSI arrested the above mentioned at their homes and held them in the SSI of Dosouk. On 24 August 1998, they were referred to the prosecution, which ordered their imprisonment for four days pending investigations. They were then taken to Tanta General Prison where they remained until their imprisonment was renewed on 12 November 1998.
In Al-Hamoul, Kafr Al-Sheikh, SSI forces arrested six members of the Muslim Brothers on 13 September 1998. They are:
- Farag Alla Abdel-Gawad Abdel-Wahab, aged 38, holder of BSc. in agriculture
- Rashid al-Morsi Ramadan, aged 34, civil servant
- Salah Aldin Gamal Hammad, aged 40, civil servant
- Ayman Abdel-Mohsin Ahmed, aged 31, civil servant
- Abdel-Galeel Mohamed Youssif, aged 31, social worker
- Rida Al-Sayid Al-Bedewy, aged 31, accountant
The SSI of Al-Hamoul broke into their houses and searched them, then took them under detention to the SSI office at Al-Hamoul. The next day, 14 September, they were referred to the State Security Prosecution, which ordered their imprisonment pending investigations in relation to case no. 4174/ 1998. They were then transferred to Tanta General Prison.
One of the accused, Rashid Al-Morsi Ramadan, has cancer and hepatitis and his health condition is very serious. In the renewal of imprisonment session, the EOHR lawyer demanded from the State Security Prosecution the release of the said person on health grounds, as stipulated in article 36 of Law 396 of 1956 on prisons. This article goes: "Any sentenced prisoner who appeared to the prison doctor to be ill with a disease that threatens his life or causes him total disability, must be referred to the head of the medical department of prisons to be examined by a forensic doctor to consider his release." The State Security Prosecution sufficed itself with mentioning his condition in the renewal of imprisonment report.
In the village of Sidi Ghazi, Kafr Al-Sheikh, on 8 October 1998, the SSI arrested other five persons accused of belonging to the Muslim Brothers. They were:
- Maher Abdel-Moneim Manie, aged 37, teacher
- Ibrahim Abdel-Khalik, aged 38, worker
- Mahrous Ahmed Mohamed, aged 30, teacher
- Atif Mohamed Moussa, aged 33, teacher
- Al-Shahaat Mohamed Ahmed, aged 33, teacher
On 10 October 1998, they were presented before the State Security Prosecution, which ordered their imprisonment pending investigations. They were held in the Tanta Istinaf Prison and Tanta General Prison. On 25 October 1998, they were transferred to Mazrait Tora on condition that the State Security Prosecution would consider the renewal of their imprisonment on 6 December 1998.
One of the accused, Maher Abdel-Moneim Manie, suffers from heart condition and high blood pressure. On 6 November 1989, he had a heart attack and asked to be taken to hospital, but the Mazrait Tora prison administration refused his demand. Instead, he took some medicine he had kept with himself.
In late December 1889, the State Security Prosecution ordered the release of all the accused except for Abdalla Abdel-Rahman Sallam from the Dosouk group, who is still in preventive detention.
Although the mentioned group was released, in late November 1998 SSI forces arrested another five persons from Kafr Al-Sheikh governorate. They were referred to the Kafr Al-Sheikh Prosecution, which ordered their imprisonment for 15 days pending investigations into case no. 1044-High State Security. Their imprisonment was renewed for a further 15 days before they were referred to the State Security Prosecution, which ordered the extension of their imprisonment for one further month provided that this would be considered in a session to be held on 23 January 1999. Below follow their names:
- Ramadan Abdel-Kareem Wadan
- Hassan Al-Sheikh Ali Wadan
- Ibrahim Ali Al-Kashif
- Medhat Heikal
- Ali Abdel-Lateef
Al- Mahala Al-Kobra
1. Khalid Eid Mohamed, aged 35, engineer
He was arrested on 10 October 1998 accused of joining a secret group that was founded in contravention to the law (the Muslim Brothers). He is currently held in preventive detention pending investigations in Mazrait Tora Prison in connection with case no. 841 of 1998-High State Security.
2. Magid Mohamed Ali Ghazi
He was arrested on 10 October 1998 accused of joining a secret group that was established in contravention to the law (the Muslim Brothers). He is currently held in preventive detention pending investigations in Mazrait Tora Prison, in connection with case no. 842 of 1998-High State Security.
3. Ibrahim Abdel-Haleem Abdel-Aleem, aged 35, teacher
He was arrested on 10 October 1998 accused of joining a secret group that was established in contravention with the law (the Muslim Brothers). He is currently held in preventive detention pending investigations in Mazrait Tora Prison, in connection with case no. 840 of 1998-High State Security.
On 1 October 1998, SSI forces arrested a number of residents of Imbaba and Warrak. They were referred to the State Security Prosecution accused of joining an illegal group (the Muslim Brothers) that was established in contradiction to the law. It ordered their imprisonment pending investigations in relation to case no. 825 of 1998. The EOHR obtained information that, during their detention and questioning at the SSI office of Gaber Ibn Hayan, in Giza, they were tortured by SSI members in order to extract information from them. Below are details about the four arrested:
1. Mohamed Sami Abdel-Rahim, aged 45, engineer
At the dawn of 1 October 1998, an armed SSI force broke into his house, arrested and took him to the SSI office of Gaber Ibn Hayan, Giza. Two days later, on 3 October, he was referred to the State Security Prosecution, which ordered his imprisonment for 15 days pending investigations. He was taken back to the SSI office, where he remained in detention until 8 October 1998, after which he was taken to Mazrait Tora Prison. The EOHR received information that he was tortured by SSI officers during questioning, over the period from 1 to 8 October 1998. Immediately after his detention, he was blindfolded, stripped off his clothes, and kicked and beaten with hands and sticks. During the investigations, on 3 October 1998, he filed a report on his torture to the Public Prosecution, and confirmed the resulting injuries. He demanded to be seen by a forensic medicine doctor. The prosecution agreed to his demand, but instead of referring him to the forensic medicine department, he was returned to the SSI office and the torture renewed. He was blindfolded, hands and feet tied, hanged, and beaten with sticks. In the session of 14 October 1998, on the renewal of his detention, his injuries were recorded as: wounds in right and left wrist, and bruises in the right knee. The prosecution renewed its decision that he be examined by a forensic doctor and this time the decision was implemented.
2. Ayman Mahmoud Sabik, aged 28, civil servant
At two a.m. on Thursday, 1 October 1998, a force from the SSI in Giza broke into his house and arrested him. Immediately after the arrest, he was blindfolded, his hands and legs tied, and beaten with sticks. On 2 October 1998, he was referred to the State Security Prosecution, which ordered his imprisonment for 15 days pending investigations. He was detained in the SSI office, blindfolded, tied and beaten. As a consequence, he suffered a number of injuries that were recorded during the prosecution interrogations, in the session of 14th October 1998, as bruises and grazes on the arms, wrists, shoulder, and upper lip. The prosecution ordered his examination by a forensic doctor.
3. Mohamed Al-Sayid Ahmed, aged 22, student at the Faculty of Engineering, Ain Shams University
Early in the morning of Thursday, 1 October 1998, an SSI force broke into his house, arrested and took him to the SSI office of Gaber Ibn Hayan, in Giza. On 3 October, he was referred to the State Security Prosecution, which ordered his imprisonment for 15 days pending investigations. He was then taken back to the SSI office. He told the EOHR representative who attended the renewal session for his case, held on 14 October 1998: "On Tuesday 6 October, in the afternoon, I was taken to some rooms, they blindfolded me, tied up my hands, and they hanged me for long hours. They put some object like an iron bolt between my knees while they beat me with a leather strip and gave me electric shocks."
4. Mohamed Al-Sayid Abid, aged 30, employee at the Ministry of Education
He was also subjected to the above mentioned practices. An SSI force broke into his house very early in the morning of Thursday, 1 October 1998. They arrested him and took him to the SSI office of Gaber Ibn Hayan, in Giza. He was referred to the State Security Prosecution, which ordered his imprisonment for 15 days pending investigations. He was then taken back to the SSI office where he was attacked in order to force him to give them information. He showed marks of grazes and bruises in the wrists and beneath the knees, in addition to brownish spots on the skin. In the session for the renewal of imprisonment, held on 14 October, the State Security Prosecution ordered that he be examined by a forensic doctor. He remained in preventive detention until his release on 2 January 1999.
During the 14 October session, the imprisonment of the four accused persons was renewed for a further 30 days, after which they would be referred to the Consultative Chamber, on 14 December 1998. The four of them denied the accusations brought against them. In addition, Mohamed Al-Sayid Ahmed, student at the Faculty of Engineering, demanded his release to be able to attend his practical tests in order not to repeat the academic year, but the State Security Prosecution refused his demand.
Greater Cairo, Alexandria, and Sharkeya
On 30 October 1998, at dawn, the SSI launched a wide campaign of arrests that covered the governorates of Giza, Kalyoubeya, Alexandria, and Sharkeya. More than 30 people were arrested and referred to the State Security Prosecution accused of joining an illegal group that was established in contravention to the law; possessing publications that promoted the group's ideas; holding organizational meetings to prepare leaders for proselitizing among the people; using the premises of the Tarbawya Society, located in Al-Sayida Aysha, Cairo, to carry out their illegal activities; and attempting to undermine the law and the Constitution. The accused were referred to the Higher State Security Prosecution, which ordered their imprisonment pending investigations in connection with case no. 866 of 1998-Higher State Security.
In Cairo, the SSI arrested the following six persons:
1. Rakwa Ahmed Mikawi, known as Sheikh Khayri Rakwa, aged 65, former educationalist at Al-Azhar
A force from the SSI and a number of members of the special forces broke into his house in Heliopolis, on 30 October 1998. Not finding him there, they searched the house and left. They went again on 2 November, after his return home from a trip outside Cairo. He was arrested and taken to the Nasr City police station, where he was detained from four to nine in the evening, and later referred to the Higher State Security Prosecution, which ordered his imprisonment for 15 days. He was then taken to Mazrait Tora Prison.
A brother in law of the accused told the EOHR the details of the first visit of the SSI force to the house of Sheikh Rakwa: "In the evening of Thursday 30 October, I was visiting my sister, the wife of Sheikh Khayri Rakwa, as she was sick and suffered from high blood pressure. My sister asked me to stay the night in the flat, as it was too late. At about two thirty in the morning of Friday, we heard unusual movement outside the house, sounds of cars stopping, then strong knocking on the door of the flat, which is on the first floor. We were all scared. I opened the door and found a large group of policemen in black uniform carrying machine guns. I think they were from the special forces. An officer at the front pointed his gun to my face. My sister and her daughters were very frightened. They gathered us in one room. We were too scared to ask them why they had come, and we could not tell them that the sheikh was not there. They locked us in while a number of armed men stood with their machine guns by the door of the room. We were inside the room knowing nothing of what was going on outside. We only heard sounds of things being thrown on the floor and some noises. They went to the daughter's room and searched it. When they left, we went out of the room and saw outside a number of SSI officers in civilian clothes. When we asked, they said they were SSI officers searching for sheikh Rakwa. We told them he was not in Cairo, he was at his brother's in Suhag. We did not see them taking any items and they did not ask us any thing."
About the second time, when the sheikh was arrested, one of the skeikh's sons told to the EOHR representative: "When my father came from Suhag, we told him what had happened. He said that he would consult a lawyer and then go to see what was the matter. But at about two a.m. on Monday, a larger force attacked the house and broke the iron chain of the front door. Meanwhile, my father washed himself to go with them and taking a bag with some personal belongings. We opened the door for them, they spread everywhere pointing their guns to our faces. They entered the bedroom, we told them that my father was in the bathroom, so one of them started knocking and kicking the bathroom door and asking my father to get out. They kept searching everywhere, even in the balcony. They asked for the key of another flat we own in the same building. They went up and prevented us from going with them. They searched it thoroughly. When they returned, they were carrying a plastic bag with something inside. When I asked about the contents of the bag, they pushed me away and an officer threatened me 'I will show you later, not now.' They took my father and left him for a long time in a police car, in front of the door, before leaving."
2. Sanaa Abdalla Abu Zeid, aged 50, doctor
He was not arrested as he suffers from angina before the arrest order was made and is in the intensive care unit of Kasr Al-Eini Hospital. Up to the writing of this report, he had not been referred to the Public Prosecutor due to the seriousness of his condition.
3. Khalid Ahmed Abu Shadi, aged 40, pharmacist, Nasr City, Cairo
4. Khalid Mohamed Mokhtar, aged 35, Nasr City, Cairo
5. Mahmoud Mohamed Ali, aged 35, civil servant, Osiem, Giza
They were arrested by the SSI at the dawn of Friday, 30 October 1998, and referred to the Higher State Security Prosecution, which ordered their preventive arrest. They were placed in Mazrait Tora Prison.
6. Ahsraf Fathi Nasr, 30, sales manager at a private sector company
He was arrested on Friday, 6 November 1998, in Cairo Airport on his return from a business trip. On 30 October at dawn, the SSI searched his house in the presence of his mother. On 7 November, he was referred to the State Security Prosecution, which ordered his preventive detention. He was taken to Mazrait Tora Prison.
On 30 October 1998 at dawn, in Kalyoubeya, SSI forces arrested eight members of the Muslim Brothers Group. On 31 October, they were referred to the Higher State Security Prosecution, which ordered their detention pending investigations in connection with case no. 866 of 1998-High State Security. They were taken to Mazrait Tora Prison. In the renewal of imprisonment session, held on 12 November, the prosecution decided to extend their preventive detention for a further 30 days, provided that the renewal would be considered at a session to be held on 12 December. The eight detainees are:
- Mohey Aldin Mostafa, aged 30
- Taha Mohamed Al-Hosseini, aged 35, civil servant
- Ibrahim Ramadan Atteya, aged 40
- Mohamed Fawzi Mahmoud, aged 40, teacher
- Essam Roshdi Abdel-Zaher, aged 30
- Sameer Mahmoud Abdel-Fattah
- Atif Mohamed Hassan, aged 38, civil servant
- Mohamed Sayid Ali
Also, in the early morning of Friday, 30 October 1998, in Alexandria, the SSI arrested 11 members of the Muslim Brothers. An SSI force raided their houses, arrested them, and referred them to the Higher State Security Prosecution, which ordered that they be preventively detained pending investigations in case no. 866 of 1998-High State Security. They were all taken to Mazrait Tora Prison. They are:
- Ahmed Kabari Ibrahim, aged 43, school principal
- Ahmed Abdel-Nabi Mahmoud, aged 42, owner of a publication house
- Medhat Ahmed Mahmoud, aged 50, businessman
- Salah Abdel-Fattah Ibrahim, aged 32, engineer
- Hussein Hassan Hussein, aged 50, worker
- Mostafa Fared Ghorab, aged 40, engineer. He gave himself up to the SSI of Alexandria on 10 November 1998
- Mohamed Al-Sayid Mohamed, aged 35, branch manager in the private sector
- Mohamed Mohsin Abdel-Salam, aged 29, teacher
- Abass Abdel-Sattar Hassan, aged 48, manager in a private sector company
- Ashraf Omar, aged 38, engineer
The list included also Nazeh Ali Mohamed, aged 43, geologist, but he has not been arrested as of the writing of this report.
At the same time, in Sharkeya governorate, on Friday 30 October 1998, at dawn, the SSI arrested nine persons and referred them to the Higher State Security Prosecution, which ordered their preventive detention pending investigations into the mentioned case no. 866 of 1998-Higher State Security. They were transferred to Mazrait Tora Prison.
Thus, the number of defendants in this case reached 34 from five governorates. Those arrested in Sharkeya were:
- Ayman Ahmed Abdel-Ghani, aged 40,engineer
- Atif Al-Shawadfi Mohammed, aged 28, accountant
- Ayman Fahmi Al-Sayid, aged 26, employee at the Doctors Syndicate of Zakazik. Arrested on 4/11/1998.
- Sameer Mohammed Soliman, aged 30, civil servant
- Al-Saadani Ahmed Al-Bari, aged 28, employee at the Bar Association
- Alaa Aldin Mohamed Al-Sayid, aged 35, teacher
- Ahmed Mohamed Abdel-Aati, aged 30, doctor
- Bassam Ali Al-Sayid, aged 30
The list of defendants included another person called Mohamed Baraya Zakher, but he has not been arrested as he works in an Arab country.
In the renewal session held on 9 January 1999, their imprisonment was renewed for one further month. Their lawyers were surprised to learn that the Public Prosecutor had decided the renewal of the imprisonment before some of the defendants even appeared in front of the State Security Prosecution. The defendants were informed of the renewal before they were interrogated. Some defendants reported to the EOHR representative who attended the renewal session the poor conditions at Mazrait Tora prison. They said that the prison administration deliberately closes the cells and does not allow them to have recreational activities since they were placed there. As a result, some of them are suffering from rheumatic pains.
Deyya Salah, teacher
He was arrested on 22 November 1998 accused of belonging to the Islamic Group (Al-Gamaa Al-Islameya). He was questioned in relation with the case of the 'Returnees from Albania'. Although he was proved not to be a member of the Islamic Group, he was placed in Mazrait Tora prison accused of joining the Muslim Brothers Group.
The EOHR appeals to the Egyptian authorities to promptly release all those detained pending investigations. It also calls for the following:
1. That the Egyptian authorities guarantee the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly, and participation in public affairs, as stated by the Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) ratified by the Egyptian government; to stop the arbitrary arrest of people from opposing political and ideological trends who express their views in peaceful ways, and to guarantee the right of all individuals to personal safety.
2. To lift all political, legal and security restrictions that deprive citizens of their right to political participation and to form associations and political parties in accordance with the Constitution and international human rights standards. In this regard, the EOHR calls for the following:
A. An end to the state of emergency in force since 1981, as it has become a tool in the hands of the security forces that enables them to violate basic rights and freedoms. Also, to cancel the state security courts, as they are a form of exceptional court associated with the state of emergency and a blatant violation of constitutional and international standards on the separation between powers and the independence of the judiciary.
B. The right to set up political parties and the lifting of all legal restrictions included in the political parties law, such as those included in articles 3, 4, 22, 33, 24 and 26. The EOHR also calls for the cancellation of the political parties committee as it constitutes an obstacle in the establishing of political parties. In this regard, the EOHR stresses the importance of removing the need to obtain permission from this committee to establish a new party.
C. To put an end to the phenomenon of politicizing the law and the courts, and to stop using them as a tool to settle accounts with the political opposition; and to respect the right of all political forces to legitimacy.
1. To stop the practice of torture and ill-treatment of citizens inside police stations, SSI offices and other places of detention. In this regard, the EOHR calls for:
A) The amendment of article 63 of the Criminal Procedure Code so as to guarantee the right of victims of torture to bring direct lawsuits in cases of torture committed by members of the security forces.
B) To announce the provisions of articles 21 and 22 of the Convention Against Torture, which entitle the UN Committee Against Torture to take up complaints made by states or individuals.
1. Finally, the EOHR calls on civil society organizations, institutions and political parties to work for the right to political participation in a democratic climate that permits all individuals and institutions to exercise their political rights safely and legitimately.
1. The arrest of members of Muslim Brothers Group focused in the governorates of Lower Egypt, particularly Alexandria, Cairo, Giza, Kalyoubeya, Sharkeya and Kafr Al-Sheikh.
2. Among those who received five years with hard labor in these two cases were Dr. Essam Al-Eryan, former MP and Assistant Secretary General of the Doctors Syndicate in Egypt; Dr. Mohamed Al-Sayid Ahmed Habeeb, Professor and Head of the Geology Department of Assiut University; Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of Zakazik University; Engineer Mohamed Khayrat Al-Shater, a prominent businessman and board member of Al-Mohandes Bank; and Dr. Abdel-Moneim Abu Al-Foutouh, Secretary General of the Arab Doctors Union.
Other EOHR Press Releases
EOHR || Human Rights in Egypt