Prisoners in Egypt set fire in Qalyoubiya police station in protest of inmate death

Ahram Online , Tuesday 22 Dec 2015

The prisoners set fire to blankets inside a cell in protest of the death of an inmate who was suffering from Virus C

Dozens of prisoners set fire to blankets inside a police station cell in Egypt's Qalyoubiya governorate in protest of the death of an inmate who was suffering from Virus C, Ahram Arabic news website reported.

Some prisoners tried to flee as the fire spread to several areas in the Khanka police station, though Saied Shalaby of the Qalyoubiya Security Directorate stressed that no prisoners escaped and that they have all been transported to other prisons.

Officials say that the inmate suffering from Virus C had been examined by a specialised doctor, though his condition deteriorated, resulting in his death.

The late prisoner was transported to the morgue for autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Local and international human rights groups have criticised in the past the conditions of Egypt’s detention facilities.

In recent months, alleged accounts of abuses and torture by police in detention areas have surfaced.

Late last month prosecutors in Ismailiya ordered the detention of a policeman pending investigation over accusations that the suspect had tortured to death veterinarian Afify Houssni. A video circulated online purportedly shows Houssni being arrested at his pharmacy.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in the southern governorate of Luxor around the same time following the death in custody of 47-year-old father of four Talaat Shabeeb.

At least four policemen facing accusations of torture in this case were transferred from their posts in Luxor to different governorates until the probe is complete.

However, Assistant Interior Minister for Public Relations and Media Abu Bakr Abdel-Kerim has said that "the term 'torture' is absolutely non-existent in the dictionary of work at prisons, which is proved by the reports of human rights organisations."

Egypt’s interior ministry has maintained it respects human rights and that reports of violations and abuses represent “isolated incidents.”

Early December, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said during a seminar at a Cairo police academy that individual violations by Egypt’s police should not take a toll on the rapport between the people and the security apparatus.

Human rights organisations are usually not allowed inside prisons in Egypt without a permit, as well as humanitarian organisations like the Red Cross.

The interior ministry sent last week a medical mission to Tora Prison in southeast Cairo to examine prisoners. 

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