Anti Morsi protesters throw stones and shine laser pointers at supporters of Egyptian President outside the presidential palace in Cairo, December 5, 2012 (Photo: reuters)
Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a statement Wednesday demanding Egypt's public prosecutor investigate the detention and abuse of anti-Morsi protesters at the hand of Muslim Brotherhood members during last Wednesday's clashes at the presidential palace.
The charge is based on testimonies of journalists, eyewitnesses and victims of the events as well statements of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) officials.
"At least 49 protesters opposed to President Mohamed Morsi were unlawfully held outside the Ittihadiya presidential palace gate, an area then occupied by the Muslim Brotherhood and overseen by riot police, detainees and witnesses told Human Rights Watch. The detentions followed armed clashes that resulted in the deaths of 10 people, mostly Muslim Brotherhood members, and injuries to 748 more, according to the Health Ministry," reads the HRW statement.
The HRW release also criticised Essam El-Erian's stance, a leading FJP member. During the clashes on the evening of 5 December, El-Erian gave a live television interview, saying, “Everyone must go now to Ettihadiya and surround the thugs and separate the real revolutionaries out for one or two nights and then we can arrest them all.”
Similar calls were made over social media. Soon after, Morsi supporters began apprehending and detaining anti-Morsi protesters.
"The police," the statement added, "took into custody at least another 92 people on the night of 5 December. The next day the 49 held at Ettihadiya were turned over to prosecutors. The prosecutors soon released 133 without charge for lack of evidence and four because they were minors. Four remained detained as of 10 December. Lawyers representing the detainees told Human Rights Watch that prosecutors had ordered the referral of 95 detainees to forensic medical doctors for examination, a step indicating that physical abuse may have occurred."
Last Wednesday, clashes erupted after Morsi supporters arrived at the presidential palace where an opposition sit-in and protest was taking place. The two sides have been swapping accusations on responsibility for the ensuing violence.
After the bloody confrontations, a number of videos circulating on the internet showed civilians being tied up, physically abused and interrogated by bearded men in the vicinity of the presidential palace. One of the victims was a former Egyptian diplomat, Yehia Negm, who alleged during an interview with Al-Hayat TV channel that Brotherhood members tortured him for several hours.