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Egyptian Youth Killed under Emergency Law

Written By David D'Angelo on Thursday, June 17, 2010 | 6/17/2010

EGYPT: According to an Associated Press report, on June 6, Khaled Mohamed Said, age 28, was attacked and allegedly killed by police officers in Alexandria, Egypt. Witnesses have told human rights organizations, such as the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights that Khaled was sitting in an Internet café when two plainclothes detectives stormed in, asking patrons to present identification. Khaled reportedly tried to ask them why they were searching the café and if they had a warrant; he himself refused to present his identification, which prompted the officers from the Sidi Gaber Police Station to attack him. According to the witnesses, he was beaten until he became unconscious, after which the officers continued their assault.

"We thought they would just interrogate him or ask him questions. But they took him as he struggled with his hands behind his back and banged his head against the marble table inside here," recalled café owner Hassan Mosbah in a filmed interview posted online by the El Ghad opposition party. The two officers reportedly took Khaled from the café to another building, where they allegedly continued to hit and kick him. The detectives then took him away in a police vehicle and later returned, discarding his body in the street.

Ayman Nour, chairman of the El Gahd party, and former presidential candidate and political prisoner, said that the officers responsible have not been arrested, and the investigation has focused on finding a mobile phone, which may have captured photographic evidence of the attack, to prevent it becoming public. There have also been allegations of police intimidating witnesses into not divulging the details of the incident and even denying that it happened at all. The official police statement alleges that Khaled died from suffocation after trying to swallow narcotics (i.e., a marijuana cigarette) when he saw the officers approaching him, even though photographs of him having been beaten have been circulating on the Internet. Khaled's brother, Ahmed Said, maintains that the beating was in retribution for Khaled's possession of a video that showed police officers splitting contraband from a drug arrest among themselves.

The Egyptian government's Emergency Law, which has been in place since the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat, gives increased power to government and police. On May 11, the government extended the Emergency Law by another two years, claiming its use would be limited to crimes concerning terrorism and the drug trade. Officers are given broader authority under the law to arrest and detain suspects without formally charging them. Critics argue that it is precisely this state of law which gives police the power that led to Khaled's death.

According to the AP story, on June 13, protesters assembled near the Ministry of Interior in the Egyptian capital of Cairo in response to Khaled's murder. Police hit and arrested many of the demonstrators, and reportedly did not allow journalists or camera crews to cover the events.

Many human rights organizations are calling for the Ministry of Interior, which has responsibility over the police, to be held accountable. In a written statement, the nongovernmental organization, Egyptian Democratic Academy (EDA), demanded that the Minister of the Interior be held accountable and that the torture committed by a public employee, regardless of whether or not the victim is a suspect, be criminalized. Other organizations, such as Amnesty International, have called for an immediate, full, and independent investigation. In a written statement, Amnesty also warned that if authorities did not take proper action, they would be sending a clear signal that human rights abuses will continue and that perpetrators can evade justice in Egypt.

To read the statement from the EDA, go to: http://egyda.org/?p=88

To read the statement from Amnesty International, go to: www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGNAU2010061417145〈=e

To support peaceful protests in Egypt, go to: http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&template=x.ascx&action=14139

For Ayman Nour's statement (in Arabic), go to:
www.facebook.com/notes/aymn-nwr/shayt-wfaty-fy-alaskndryt-w-hqyqt-wfath/401681107698

For a statement from the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, go to: http://en.eohr.org/2010/06/14/eohrs-campaign-to-combat-the-phenomenon-of-impunity

To read more about the protest in Cairo, go to: www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5im-Kw1VwkViBjtBkORFz0olsP-uAD9GAHO900

For more information, including commentary by several Egyptians, go to:
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/06/10/egypt-khaled-said-an-emergency-murder-by-an-emergency-law

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