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Egypt's interior ministry says incidents of torture are isolated, no protection for violators

Egypt saw several cases of detainees dying while in police custody last week, prompting protests and investigations

Ahram Online , Sunday 29 Nov 2015
Riot police
Riot police walk in front of the Interior Ministry headquarters in Cairo March 8, 2013 (Photo:Reuters).
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An Egyptian interior minister aide said the ministry does not protect any policeman who mistreats a citizen or violates the law after multiple cases of detainees allegedly being tortured to death last month.

Abu-Bakr Abdel-Karim, deputy minister for public relations and media, said the cases were referred to the prosecution or to internal questioning for "administrative violations."

"The ministry cannot let any police personnel tarnish its image due to individual actions," Abdel-Kerim told ONtv channel's 'Al-Sada Al-Mohtaramoun' [the respectable men] program on Saturday evening.

"We cannot judge the ministry based on seven, eight, or ten incidents, even if they were major," though he admitted that the incidents were "big, regrettable, and a violation of the law."

On Thursday, Luxor governorate in Upper Egypt saw hundreds of people protest following the death of a 47-year-old man in custody. The prosecutor-general has opened an investigation into the case.

Abdel-Kerim insisted that the ministry handles such cases transparently, adding that there are incidents that people do not know about where the ministry took action and referred the cases to the general prosecution.

"We don't want one of us to tarnish our image or to waste our efforts or the sacrifices of policemen," Abdel-Kerim said.

On Friday, a police officer was suspended in Ismailia pending investigation into the case of veterinarian Afify Houssni, who died while in his custody at a police station Thursday.

Also on Thursday, another police officer was detained pending investigation into allegations of assaulting a bus driver and abuse of power, as he allegedly falsified a police report accusing the driver of illicit drug possession.

The interior ministry has not issued a statement regarding the latest torture cases.

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