File photo: Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque (Photo: AP)
An Egyptian court was taken aback on Thursday after a man tortured at a Cairo protest camp by loyalists of deposed president Mohamed Morsi changed his account of the incident.
Ahmed Hassan Mohsen, a garage attendant, was badly tortured and had his finger amputated in the vicinity of a pro-Morsi sit-in in northeast Cairo in July. Mohsen's assailants then drove him to a desert region and threw him on a freeway.
Earlier, Mohsen told investigators that he was tortured by pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters at the Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in after they accused him and a friend of stealing a cell phone.
In the Thursday hearing, Mohsen backed down on his statement. He instead claimed that the defendants came to his rescue and that the accusations were trumped up by a police officer, according to judicial sources.
Mohsen said a police officer forced him to accuse the defendants of torture after the policeman failed to arrest them. He did not specify, however, who the assailants were.
Several allegations of torture of anti-Brotherhood protesters and policemen were reported during the two week long pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo and Giza, charges denied by Islamists. The interior ministry also stated that the bodies of torture victims were found at the sites.
Amnesty International issued a report in August containing several testimonies from anti-Morsi protesters, who alleged they had been captured, beaten, subjected to electric shocks and stabbed by supporters of the deposed president.
Security forces raided the pro-Morsi camps on 14 August, leaving hundreds dead and instigating days of deadly street violence pitting Islamists against security forces and Morsi opponents.
Egypt has plunged into turmoil since the popularly-backed military overthrow of Morsi after one year of rule. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has sustained an ongoing clampdown campaign by security forces, who have arrested a number of high and mid-ranking members.
The country's upheavals have choked the economy and hammered tourism, a main source of national income.