Staff members at a private drug rehabilitation centre in Cairo's Muqattam district were found to have tortured their patients, according to the preliminary findings of an investigation by prosecutors released Wednesday.
Investigations were initially launched when Nabil (last name withheld), 45, told police that his son, Alaa, a patient at the centre, had gone missing. After inspecting the centre’s facilities, police found that 20-year-old Alaa had reportedly committed suicide in one of the centre’s bathrooms.
Alaa’s parents, however, subsequently provided South Cairo prosecutors with video footage showing incidences of torture on the centre’s premises, Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language website reported on Wednesday.
The footage shows members of the centre’s staff stripping patients naked, shaving their heads and binding their hands behind their backs.
Alaa's father later told prosecutors that his son had repeatedly complained that he was being subject to torture, but that centre officials had assured them that his son was making the claims to get out of the rehabilitation programme.
Until now, charges have been formally brought against two members of the centre’s staff, 26-year-old Mohamed Gamal Mansour and Mohamed Rabie Saad.
Both Mansour and Saad have told prosecutors that they had been instructed by doctors at the centre to beat patients who were suffering epileptic fits. Doctors, they said, had told them that the seizures were side effects of the patients’ addiction.
Incidents of torture in Egypt have been frequently reported in recent years. Although most have involved police and security forces and were often political in nature, sporadic cases of torture and abuse have also surfaced within domestic and labour-related contexts.
Prosecutors have since ordered the formation of a medical committee to look into the case and determine whether the centre was officially qualified to provide drug rehabilitation programmes. They have also called for the questioning of all the centre’s doctors and staff.
Prosecutors have summoned Dr. Ahmed Samir – in whose name the clinic is officially registered – for questioning, Al-Ahram reported on Wednesday evening.
Prosecutors have also said that subsequent investigations had revealed that Alaa had not committed suicide but had in fact died of injuries sustained as a result of torture.