Egypt: Morsi supporters reportedly beaten upon arrest

Detainees report being made to crawl on broken glass by security forces after their arrest

Hundreds of supporters of the former president Mohamed Morsi arrested by the Egyptian authorities have been denied their legal rights - including allegedly suffering beatings and electric shocks - said Amnesty International today, as it published a new briefing on the situation in Egypt .

Amnesty has gathered testimonies from detainees who said that they were beaten upon arrest, subjected to electric shocks or hit with rifle butts. One man and his wife described how they were made to crawl on broken glass by security forces after their arrest.

Amnesty is calling on the Egyptian authorities to respect the right to due process for those who have been rounded up and are facing accusations of inciting or participating in violence in the last two weeks. Allegations of ill-treatment must also be investigated urgently.

Since Morsi’s 3 July ousting, lawyers have told Amnesty that more than 660 men have been arrested in Cairo alone, including prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party. Many were arrested on 8 July during fatal violence around the Republican Guard Club. While release orders were eventually issued for some 650 suspects, lawyers have told Amnesty that an unknown number remain in detention due to their inability to pay bail ranging from 1,000-5,000 Egyptian pounds (£100-£450). The whereabouts of the deposed President and his team of aides is still unknown. Amnesty fears that their conditions of detention may amount to enforced disappearance.

Family members who have made enquiries about missing people have been denied information on their relative’s whereabouts, and those missing appear not to have been brought before a judge or given access to a lawyer. With at least nine senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters already detained, arrest warrants have also been issued for other prominent figures, including the group’s spiritual guide. The Muslim Brotherhood’s chief lawyer, Abdelmonim Abdelmaqsoud, has also been detained in Tora Prison, south of Cairo.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said:

“At this time of extreme polarisation and division, it is more important than ever that the office of the Public Prosecutor demonstrates that it’s truly independent and not politicised.

“Establishing trust in the justice system will be impossible if only supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are targeted while security forces are absolved of responsibility for unlawful killings and their failure to protect protesters from violence.

“Everyone has the right to due process, no matter what the authorities think of their political affiliation or their position. Mohamed Morsi and his team, like anyone, should be granted their basic rights, including immediate access to their lawyers and family.”

Reports of torture
Amnesty is also urging the Egyptian authorities to launch full investigations into reports of detainees being beaten and ill-treated, particularly upon arrest, in the vicinity of the Republican Guard Club. This includes being hit with rifle butts and given electric shocks. Detainees also said that at police stations they were interrogated while blindfolded by men they believed to be intelligence officials from the National Security Agency, a practice that is eerily reminiscent of Mubarak-era tactics. Newly released detainees also complained about not being allowed to contact their families or lawyers.

Former detainee Mostafa Ali said that he and his wife were made to crawl on broken glass by security forces after their arrest. They had been sheltering in a nearby building after the Republican Guard Club protest was dispersed. The security forces then forced him and other detainees to crawl along the ground handcuffed together. He said they were beaten and given electric shocks.

Crackdown on media
Directly after the army announced the ousting on 3 July, at least six pro-Morsi television stations were taken off the air and had their studios raided. The following day the Freedom and Justice Party announced that the state’s printing press refused to print the party’s newspaper.

On Sunday the Public Prosecution froze the assets of 14 men associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and parties supporting them.

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