Egypt in cover-up of protester killings on revolution anniversary: Amnesty

Marwan Sultan in London , Sunday 1 Feb 2015

Amnesty International accuses Egyptian authorities of intimidating witnesses to killings in protests on the revolution anniversary and keeping detainees in unofficial detention centres

Amnesty International has accused Egyptian authorities of covering up the killing of 27 people during protests marking the fourth anniversary of January 25 Revolution.

The human rights group said it had documented evidence that security forces repeatedly used excessive force against demonstrators and bystanders during protests last week.

In a new report on Egypt, Amnesty accused authorities of “doing nothing to rein them in,” calling on the international community to “act now to stop a mounting human rights crisis in Egypt.”

Egypt's General Prosecution Service has launched official investigations into the killings.

However, Amnesty said this move appeared “to aim at whitewashing mounting evidence of the security forces’ ruthless and unlawful actions.”

At least 27 people are reported to have died in the violence. They include at least two women, Sondos Reda Abu Bakr and Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh, as well as a 10-year-old boy, Mina Maher, Amnesty said.

A prosecutor ordered the arrest of eyewitnesses to Al-Sabbagh’s killing who had come forward to testify about what they had seen, according to the report.

This was “a move apparently aimed at intimidating eyewitnesses against testifying against the police,” it added.

The Egypt’s interior ministry said two members of the security forces also were also killed in clashes with protesters. It said 500 people were arrested during protests.

Authorities accused them of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Amnesty said they are being detained in unofficial detention centres. It also claimed it has also gathered information on prosecutors “threatening eyewitnesses with arrest.”

Local human rights lawyers have reportedly complained they are being prevented from representing many of the detainees.

Amnesty’s report has quoted Egyptian human rights organisations as saying the police are also detaining at least two journalists who were documenting the protests.

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