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Martyrs’ families won't leave morgue until govt admits police killed loved ones

More deaths as protests grow against military rule; families of martyrs grieve in shock, demand autopsies and justice

Salma Shukrallah, Tuesday 22 Nov 2011
One of hundreds of the injured (Photo: Reuters)

As Central Security Forces (CSF) continued clashing with thousands of young protestors in Tahrir Square’s Mohamed Mahmoud gate late for the third day in a row, 22 bodies of people who were protesting against the ruling military council had reached the Zeinhom morgue by 7pm Monday.

While more bodies were being brought in to the morgue in the early evening hours of a day that saw five more fatalities , mothers of the young men who lost their lives during the mass protests in Tahrir stood there all dressed in black, some wearing the full Islamic veil, weeping and screaming unable to comprehend their loss.   

A book-keeper who documents the count and  identity of dead bodies that arrive at the morgue told Ahram Online that the average age of the bodies that arrived was between 17 and 24.

He added that of the 22 young men he looked at so far, the identity of three victims could not be determined.

Aida El-Kashif, a political activist who had been in the square throughout the 3-day old clashes said that a family was going around looking for their son, 14-year old Mostafa Abd El-Rahman, who had been missing following the start of the clashes.

When approached and asked by El-Kashif  whether Mostafa 14 was amongst the dead, the book-keeper replied negatively.

The morgue book-keeper informed  El-Kashef that missing bodies could be still be found in four different Cairo hospitals, namely Mounira, Kasr El-Ainy, Helal and Ahmed Maher.

He advised El-Kashif and the family to begin searching for the young boy in these medical facilities next.

Another man at the morgue told Ahram Online that two of his relatives were severely wounded during the clashes and that one of them, his nephew, succumbed to his injuries.

The angry man added that the report issued by the hospital stated that his nephew died of severe low blood pressure although it was clear to a naked eye that he had sustained a bullet shot to the neck.

The man also told Ahram Online that the morgue has so far refused to perform forensic check-ups on the dead bodies, and that staff had told him that a hospital report which were based on surface-examinations of corpses

However, the man added that the families of the victims would refuse to leave the morgue unless proper autopsies that establish beyond reasonable doubt the real cause of death were performed.

According to 12 previous forensic reports issued from the Zeinhom morgue, where the bodies are being processed before burial rites, nine died of live ammunition, two died because of poisoning blamed on the tear gas, and one died as a result of damage to the skull.

Another women who had also lost a relative told Ahram Online that her 17 year old nephew, Mohamed Ahmed El-Abadi, was found with a bullet shot to his neck and another one to his shoulder.

Rights lawyer Taher Abd El-Malek said that the government took a long while to send its prosecutors to verify death certificates and issue the permits needed to bury the martyrs. He said that he believes that the government was probably unsure how to deal with the falloutfrom scale of the deaths caused by its own police.

One of the family members at the morgue confirmed Abd El-Malek’s suspicions, and said that the prosecution officer who visited the morgue entered quickly from the back door so as not to be confronted by angry fathers and mothers who have lost their sons.

As of Monday night, as the situation remains tense and clashes between hundreds of thousands of protesters and the police continue in Tahrir and elsewhere in the country, over 35 protesters have been killed, mostly in Cairo, and hundreds have sustained severe injuries that have required hospitalisation.

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