CAIRO: Egyptian human rights organizations called for the prosecution of a group of police officers who allegedly videotaped the sexual abuse of a microbus driver and circulated the video among local bus drivers.
The video, which was circulated on Internet blogs, showed Imad Al-Kabir, an Egyptian microbus driver, lying on the floor naked from the waist down, his hands bound behind his back. Al-Kabir was shown screaming while a stick was used to allegedly sodomize him.
“This incident happened last year in Bulak Al Dakror police station. I had tried to intervene in a fight between my brother and a policeman, who forced him to pay LE 5 fine for no obvious reason, Al-Kabir told to The Daily Star Egypt.
He said: “The police took me to the station, abused me and threatened me not to utter a word of what they did to me, otherwise they will jail my brother and rape women in my family.
Last month, Al-Kabir interfered in another argument between his brother and the police, and said he took the video to the house of the interior minister as evidence of police abuse.
“The interior minister’s security called some high-ranked officer, who came and took me to the police station. They kept interrogating me for a continuous 48 hours after I had written two petitions against them, one addressed to the general prosecutor and the other to the interior ministry, said Al-Kabir.
He added the police threatened him again and asked him to withdraw his petitions but he refused.
“I will never let something like this pass easily. I believe there should be some action taken after all the assaults I have gone through. The police must know that the law should be applied on them before they unfairly apply it on poor people, said Al-Kabir.
He demands a fair prosecution of the police officers who abused him. He said: “It is a matter of human dignity and honor. I won’t calm down until I see Islam Nabeh, the officer who beaten me, and Reda Fathy, the one who video recorded the assaults, being fairly prosecuted. I want to read their scandals in newspapers just as they distributed my video everywhere, said Al-Kabir.
Nasser Amin, Al-Kabir’s lawyer, said the case is now being investigated by the prosecution and hoped it would decide on the case as soon as possible.
He said the prosecution listened to his statements, Al-Kabir’s statements and the statements of the other police officers involved, but still there are other officers who have yet to be interrogated.
“Although the traces of abuse disappeared from Al-Kabir’s body, as the incident happened last year, the prosecutor’s office ordered that Al-Kabir should go through a forensic examination, said Amin.
He expects that the prosecutors will use the lack of physical traces to deny that this violation has taken place, but says that other evidence can strengthen the case.
Amin said: “The distributed videos, the voices of the police officers and other proof will be used in the case as evidence to the prosecutors.
Ayman Helmy, an official at the interior ministry, declined to comment on the subject, but said investigations are continuing and the ministry will immediately implement whatever decision the prosecution reaches.
He added that it is unlikely the prosecution will prove the incident since Al-Kabir lacks enough evidence. “Al-Kabir is merely making allegations with no solid proof. But if the prosecution decides to jail the officers, free them or even prove the case, we will apply that immediately, said Helmy.
Fadi El Kadi, director of Human Rights Watch in Cairo, said the organization had filed the case and called for the prosecution of the police officers.
“Our role is to document those cases that involve sexual abuse; we can’t prosecute the police officers ourselves. It is the job of the Egyptian human rights organizations to demand an official prosecution for police officers who sexually assault prisoners in different cells or stations, said El Kadi.
He added that the phenomenon of sexual abuse is vastly spreading in different Egyptian police stations and cells because no serious action is taken against abusers. He said prosecution takes place in very rare exceptional cases of sexual torture.
Noov Senary, a lawyer with the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), said the organization has sent petitions to the specialized institutions demanding they investigate the case and take suitable action.
“We are following the situation until something new happens. We did our part in reporting to the prosecution and the ministry if interior. Our role is limited to that. The next phase is the investigation by the prosecution, which is in progress now, said Senary.
According to the 2005 report on human rights violations in Egypt issued by the EOHR, there are 34 documented cases of sexual abuse in police stations.
The organization has filed 17 cases in Giza governorate, seven cases in Cairo, two cases in Port Said, another two cases in Qena and a case in each of Suez, El Menia, Northeren Sinai, Sharkia and Dahaklia.
In all previous cases, the EOHR had approached the prosecutor’s office, the general administration of abuse monitoring in the interior ministry and the National Council for Human Rights, but the organization has never received a response to any of the cases from all the concerned institutions.