42 Omraneya copts released on Monday

Ayman Farouk, Monday 20 Dec 2010

General Prosecutor releases 42 detainees for ongoing Omraneya Church case, citing arrests were unjustified. 42 suspects are still detained, as investigation continues

Charges against 42 arrested in last month's Omraneya violence were dropped. (Photo Reuters)

General Prosecutor Abdel Megeed Mahmoud decided to release 42 of those arrested in the Omraneya violence, increasing the total number of those released to 116.

Mahmoud also decided to keep another 42 copts detained for an additional 15 days, pending investigation.

The Copts were arrested following clashes between police and Copts who rioted last month over a municipal council decision to halt construction of a church building in the lower middle class district of Omraneya.The detainees were accused of participating in mob violence, damaging private and public property, obstructing traffic, stopping public institutions from conducting their work, attacking security forces and throwing explosives.

The copts denied the charges and said that it was merely a coincidence that they were in the area on the day the violence broke. Other detainees said that they were in front of the Omraneya Church, preparing food for the construction workers on the site, while others said that they were praying inside the church. The detainees also denied causing any damage to the Omraneya City Council building.

According to the technical report provided to the prosecution, Molotov cocktails were used during the riots, which broke out on November 24 in protest of the decision to halt church construction. The official decision to do so cited that the construction violated the terms of the building permit, which stipulate that only a basement and three floors could be built for a community center. However, officials in the Giza governorate noticed that the builders had begun constructing a church dome.

The prosecution has also asked for the speedy release of the forensic report that had all of the suspects' injuries.

The defense had requested that the detainees would be released on the grounds that their arrest was unjustified.

The police had provided extra security around the Giza Prosecution office as it transferred the suspects from the Tora jail to the office in the governorate.


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