Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim on Sunday urged all parties to keep the police apparatus out of the conflict between the regime and the opposition.
In a press conference held to address the latest violence across the country, Ibrahim said that the immense amount of criticism the Ministry of Interior constantly receives has taken a toll on policemen’s morale.
“Blaming us for everything that happens will eventually force us to withdraw from the scene and let you all sort it out by yourselves,” the minister said. He stated that the armed forces are incapable of doing policemen’s’ jobs. “Let the armed forces secure the borders and let us secure the poor Egyptian citizens,” he added.
Ibrahim accused the media of spreading false rumours about police abuse. He urged political movements to withdraw their supporters from the streets so that the police can identify the true “thugs”. “Let us deal with thugs in the way they deserve and treat protesters in the manner they deserve,” Ibrahim said.
He added that the police had not fired at protesters since the January 2011 revolution, giving detailed accounts of different cases where police were accused of killing protesters.
Ibrahim stated that the Ministry of Interior will challenge the report of the committee established to reevaluate Mohamed El-Gendy’s medical report. El-Gendy’s family claims he was tortured at the hands of the police, sustaining injuries which eventually led to his death. The police claim his injuries were caused by a car accident. The tripartite committee was created on the request of El-Gendy’s lawyers and ruled out the possibility that a car accident was the cause of his death.
“There are eyewitnesses who testified to prosecution about having seen El-Gendy as he was hit by a car near Tahrir Square,” Ibrahim said. He added that the mobile service provider of El-Gendy’s phone stated he was killed in the vicinity of Tahrir Square. “When would we have found the time to arrest him and torture him to death when he was picked up, injured, from Tahrir Square?” he asked.
Ibrahim also denied that the Homeland Security was behind the disappearance of 6 April Movement member Khaled Al-Aqqad. Al-Aqqad disappeared almost two weeks ago and the 6 April movement accused Homeland Security of abducting him for refusing to become an informant.
“We found Al-Aqqad in a rented apartment in Alexandria where he was hiding until the movement held protests condemning his disappearance,” Ibrahim said. “He was caught on camera as policemen, coupled with prosecution representatives, went into the rented apartment to find him in a good condition, which negates the possibility of his kidnap.”
Al-Aqqad allegedly told the movement he was detained by Homeland Security during the ten days of his disappearance.
6 April member Mustafa Al-Haggary said: “When we held protests in front of the Ministry of Interior condemning his disappearance, the police moved Al-Aqqad to an apartment they rented in Alexandria then raided the apartment a day later.”
Al-Haggary claimed Al-Aqqad was repeatedly electrocuted during his detention. He added that Al-Aqqad told the prosecution that he was kidnapped by the police, and that the real estate agent and the landlord could both confirm that the apartment was rented by the police.
Ibrahim also denied that Hossam Abdel Azeem, a resident of Mansoura, died after being hit by a Central Security Forces (CSF) vehicle on 1 March. “His medical report states there is not a single scratch indicating he was run over,” Ibrahim said. “It adds that Abdel Azeem had a respiratory disease which caused his death upon inhaling teargas.”
The CSF truck driver was released from custody on Thursday night, causing outrage in Mansoura. “We respect the rule of law,” Ibrahim said. “Those blaming the police for Abdel Azeem’s death should have waited until the prosecution’s investigation was over.”
The Minister also condemned the violent reaction to Saturday’s verdict on the Port Said massacre. “Both Port Said residents and Ultras Ahlawy memers were upset about the verdict,” he said. “Yet, that doesn’t justify the scene of 3,000 individuals raiding a social club full of women and children and setting it ablaze,” said Ibrahim, referring to the attack on the Police Club. “That attack cost us EGP 50m.”
He stated that if the people accept the death sentence for 21 defendants, they should also accept the acquittal of 28 defendants.
Ibrahim stated that the CSF have been patrolling the streets nationwide since 25 January, adding that they are under immense psychological pressure. “They are constantly attacked with different kinds of weapons; teargas is the only weapon they possess to respond to such attacks. They come back home to hear the media criticise them all night long. “
“We are human, at the end of the day,” said Ibrahim. “And my police officers are upset and I share their feelings.”
The minister said that some CSF personnel are holding a strike. “They have certain financial demands that we are currently studying,” he said, adding that he will meet with striking policemen on Monday and listen to their demands.