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Cairo University says police responsible for student death

Cairo university to document assaults against students by security forces on Thursday 21 November before pursuing legal action; engineering professors declare strike

Ahram Online, Saturday 30 Nov 2013
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Cairo University has accused security forces of firing tear gas and birdshot on campus during clashes Thursday, which led to the death of a student and the injury of several others, according to a statement released by the university on Saturday.

According to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website, university administration is conducting an immediate investigation into the incident.  

Mohamed Reda, an engineering student, was killed Thursday by a birdshot injury to the neck.

Clashes erupted after several hundred students staged a protest to denounce the harsh jail sentences recently given to 21 female pro-Morsi protesters in Alexandria.

The Ministry of Interior has accused the students of "blocking traffic" and "hurling stones at security forces off campus."

"What happened is unacceptable and is the responsibility of some members of the security forces who broke their lines, and deliberately followed students inside the campus," said the statement, demanding the immediate release of all detained students.

The university said that testimonies, photographs and footage are being collated by a committee of faculty, university administration and student members to document the incident.

The statement added that a legal team will be delegated by the university to follow up on the matter, "and will inform sovereign entities to punish those behind this crime."

On Friday, south Giza prosecution ordered the detention, pending investigation, of four students accused of manslaughter and of instigating an unauthorised protest.

The four detainees, at least two of whom are not students of Cairo University, denied taking part in the protests.

Under the newly established protest law, authorities are entitled to ban protests if they conceive them to pose a threat to public order. Those who violate the law by protesting without authorisation may be subject to severe jail sentences.

On Thursday 21 November, Egypt's cabinet decided to allow police forces access to university campuses without the prior authorisation of university administrators or Egypt's prosecution. The decision angered student activists who vowed to defy it.

Meanwhile, a statement was issued by members of the faculty of engineering declaring a strike in protest over Thursday's violence, until an investigative committee is formed to trial the culprits.

Faculty members also demanded an official apology from the Ministry of Interior and the removal of security forces and army tanks from the vicinities of Cairo University, in addition to the opening of all roads leading to the campus.

The statement also reiterated demands for the immediate release of all student detainees, as well as the "annullment of the cabinet's decision to allow security forces to raid the university at any time, which destroys the principal of the university's independence."

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