Parliament committee convenes to look at police assault on naked protester

Ahram Online , Sunday 3 Feb 2013

Shura Council members probe a recent assault by security forces at the presidential palace that has sparked outrage across the country, though the victim's account contradicts video evidence

The Shura Council's National Security Committee convened Sunday to address a recent violent assault by security officers on a protestor outside the presidential palace in Heliopolis, Cairo.

On Friday, video footage was broadcast on Al-Hayat satellite television showing a protester, Hamada Saber, dragged naked and repeatedly beaten by security forces.

At the Shura Council, interior ministry official Abdel Fattah Othman denied that police officers were "responsible for stripping him off" as widely reported.

"The interior ministry respects and protects peaceful demonstrations. But in recent days protests have gone far from being peaceful as some violent groups seek to assault governmental institutions and other buildings and hotels," Othman said during the meeting.

No similar incidents were reported during the January 25-26 protests, except in some already troubled Suez Canal cities, Othman said, citing this as evidence that security officers have exercised "the utmost self-restraint."

The violent incident screened on several sattelite channels, which has sent shockwaves across the country, was later denied by Saber who claimed he was actually assaulted by protesters and that security forces came to his rescue.

Meanwhile, the Heliopolis prosecution has ordered a re-investigation with Saber after his family claimed he is being threatened and pressured by the police to change his account.

In several phone-ins on satellite TV channels, Saber's family members asserted that he was assaulted and dragged by the security forces as he was running from teargas, claiming he was begging them to stop.

A delegation from the Freedoms Committee of the Lawyers' Syndicate is expected to go to Saber in a police hospital, where he is being treated, to listen to his account and examine his claims that he was assaulted by protestors, not police officers as captured on video.

The interior ministry apologised for the incident Friday, saying it was an "individual act" and does not represent standard police practice.

As many activists held President Morsi politically responsible for the assault on Saber because of his publicly stated and unconditional support for police actions against protesters, the presidency also issued a statement condemning the assault.

"The presidency was pained by the shocking footage of policemen dragging a protester in a way that does not preserve dignity and human rights," a statement released Saturday said.

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