Ahmed Abu Gabal, a paramedic and member of the Tahrir Doctors’ Society, was released on Thursday night while his associate Hamada Al-Masry, a political activist, was detained for four days.
Abu Gabal and Al-Masry were arrested on Thursday at dawn following clashes between lawyers and policemen outside Boulak Abul Ella police station.
Clashes erupted when police forces prevented Mohamed Reda, a lawyer, from visiting a detainee on Wednesday night. Reda’s visit was denied because it was outside official visiting hours, reported state-owned Al-Ahram. Mohamed Farag, Tahrir Doctors’ Society’s media coordinator, stated that Reda was ill-treated by the police forces and subsequently called fellow lawyers for assistance.
Abu Gabal, with Al-Masry, arrived with the lawyers to check on Reda’s health and offer any necessary medical assistance, Farag said. He added that the lawyers and activists were physically assaulted by police and “thugs”, who were allegedly summoned by the police. Al-Ahram reported that “residents of Boulak” supported the policemen in the face of the “lawyers’ rage”, adding Abu Gabal and Al-Masry were arrested for possession of weapons stolen from a police station. Farag claimed the lawyers went to the police station to file a report documenting the attack and the police detained Abu Gabal and Al-Masry “because neither of them were lawyers”.
Abu Gabal and Al-Masry were referred for investigation on Thursday evening at the Bab Al-Khalq court in Boulak Abul Ella. They were accused of attempting to break into the police station. Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei stated, in a personal tweet, that prosecutors withdrew from the investigation in protest over the prosecutor general’s decision to detain Abu Gabal and Al-Masry without due cause.
“Whatever is happening to justice?” ElBaradei’s tweet asked.
Farag said the prosecutor holding the investigation believed that the charges were fabricated. “He exited the court, leaving behind a written decision to release Abu Gabal,” Farag said, adding that despite this, Abu Gabal was not immediately released.
Conflicts between lawyers and policemen frequently take place in police stations. In July 2012, a fight between a lawyer visiting his client and a policeman became violent, leading to a lawyers’ strike lasting several days outside the Nasr City police station.