'Egypt police haven't fired one bullet since revolution anniversary': Interior Minister
Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim refutes protesters' claims of police brutality, attributes ongoing police officers' strike to 'psychological pressures'
Ahram Online, Sunday 10 Mar 2013
Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim slammed acts of vandalism that followed the announcement of Saturday's Port Said court ruling, asserting at a Sunday press conference that police had not fired a single bullet since the second anniversary of the 25 January 2011 revolution.
On Saturday, an Egyptian criminal court issued its final verdict in the trial of those charged with complicity in the February 2012 Port Said stadium disaster in which scores of fans of Cairo-based football club Ahly were killed.
The verdict confirmed 21 previous death sentences (delivered in January), as well as five life sentences, ten 15-year jail sentences (including two policemen), six ten-year jail sentences, two five-year jail sentences, and a single one-year sentence. The remaining 28 defendants, meanwhile, were acquitted.
At the press conference, Ibrahim blasted the unidentified assailants who raided a police officer's club in Cairo and the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) headquarters on Saturday following the announcement of the court verdict. Ibrahim estimated total property damage at more than LE50 million at the police club and some LE6 million at the EFA headquarters.
"They [the assailants] entered a social club in which children and women were present, where they torched everything and fired shotguns loaded with birdshot in the air," the minister said, adding that some of the attackers had been arrested and that investigations remained ongoing.
Meanwhile, regarding police officers currently waging a strike, Ibrahim said that such strikes were nothing new, attributing the strike to "psychological pressure" imposed on the officers.
"Central Security Forces have been on the streets since 25 January [the revolution's second anniversary]; there has been psychological pressure on them [police officers] in all governorates," Ibrahim said, adding that police were being assaulted with "all kinds of weapons" while they were armed only with teargas.
The minister added that striking police had other social and financial demands, vowing to open talks with strike representatives.
Ibrahim refuted claims that the ministry was responsible for the killing of protesters within recent months.
He strenuously denied claims that security forces were responsible for the death of Khaled Mostafa, a protester killed in Saturday clashes between anti-government demonstrators and police near Cairo's Qasr El-Nil Bridge.
"Khaled had been far away from the clashes when he died. He was standing with another protester who had a gun in his hand, and while the latter was playing with it he accidently shot Khaled," the minister asserted.
The minister's version of the story contradicts the account by Mostafa's friend, Abu Bakr Kamel, who told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website on Saturday that Khaled had been shot in the back of the head while trying to rescue an injured protester near Qasr El-Nil Bridge.
Ibrahim went on to deny police responsibility for the killing of Hossam Abdel-Azim, who was killed in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura on 2 March in violent clashes between police and protesters.
"We're men of law; we implement the law and respect it. According to the forensic report, there wasn't a scratch found on the deceased implying that his death wasn't due to a vehicle but to suffocation," said Ibrahim.
Shortly after his death, Abdel-Azim's father told Ahram Online that his son had simply been "passing through" the protest on his way back home when he was run over twice by a police vehicle, stressing that he was "having trouble" obtaining a copy of the forensic report.
Regarding the tripartite forensic committee that had asserted that the death last month of activist Mohamed El-Gendy had been due to torture and not a car accident – as had been claimed by forensic authorities and the interior ministry – Ibrahim said the committee had been "flawed" since it had based its findings on documents and x-rays rather than a proper autopsy on the body.
"We will appeal the tripartite committee's report, because we have witnesses who say he was hit by a car. Also, the telephone company told us that his phone had last been used in Tahrir square," Ibrahim said.
The minister also accused activists of lying about the whereabouts of Khaled El-Akkad, a member of the 6 April youth group's democratic front who was reported missing a few days ago. Activists have accused Egypt's National Security apparatus of kidnapping the young man.
However, according to Ibrahim, El-Akkad had been located in an apartment in Alexandria's Agami district. The minister accused the activist of trying to incite protests based on false allegations.
"All that we're asking for from political groups is to remove the police apparatus from their political disputes and allow us to work on providing public security," added Ibrahim
He went on to warn "those who are trying to crush the police apparatus," stressing that the Egyptian armed forces would never step in to replace the police.