US court drops lawsuit against Egypt's former PM

Ahram Online , Ahram Online , Monday 20 Sep 2021

The lawsuit was filed by US citizen Mohamed Soltan in which he argued he was beaten and tortured in a Cairo prison

Hazem El-Beblawi
File photo of Egypt's former Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi

A US court has dismissed the lawsuit filed by US citizen Mohamed Soltan against former Egyptian prime minister Hazem El-Beblawi, in which the former argued that he was beaten and tortured when he was imprisoned in Cairo from 2013 to 2015 at Beblawi’s authorisation.

On Friday, a Washington DC court dismissed the case due to El-Beblawi's immunity as per a formal declaration submitted by the US administration, according to media reports.

In early April, the US Justice Department submitted a formal declaration urging the court to dismiss the case filed by Soltan against El-Beblawi since the latter had diplomatic immunity at the time of filing the lawsuit because he was serving as a principal resident representative of Egypt to the US-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) until October 2020.

Soltan's lawsuit was filed at a federal district court in Washington DC in June 2020 under the US Torture Victim's Protection Act (TVPA).

The TVPA law allows lodging suits against individuals who committed torture while being in an official capacity for any foreign nation, provided that the defendants are in the US at the time of filing the suit.

Soltan, 32, was arrested over terrorism charges shortly after the dispersal of the pro-Mohamed Morsi protest camp in Cairo’s Rabaa El-Adawiya in 2013 while El-Beblawi was serving as interim prime minister following the ouster of Morsi and his government in June of the same year.

Soltan spent 21 months in an Egyptian prison – going on a hunger strike for the majority of his time – before he was sentenced in April 2015 to life in prison, which is a 25-year sentence under Egypt's penal code.

A month later, Soltan renounced his Egyptian nationality and was released by the Egyptian authorities and then he flew to the US, as per Egyptian law.

According to a law passed by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in 2014, foreign nationals who are convicted in crimes they committed in Egypt can be deported to serve their sentences or be retried in their country.

In February 2015, the Egyptian government used the law to deport Al-Jazeera's Australian journalist Peter Greste who was standing retrial in Cairo on charges of abetting terrorists in late 2013.

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