An inmate in Al-Waraq police station died Tuesday night, marking the fourth incident of death in police custody this week.
The Waraq prosecution unit began investigating the inmate’s death and ordered the Forensic Medicine department to examine the body, although the deceased’s family requested the prosecution not to autopsy the body.
The prosecution said the deceased fainted while he was being transferred to the police station and died before reaching hospital.
The man, who was a trader, was arrested Tuesday and ordered to remain in detention for four days pending investigations on charges of fraud and theft.
The Ministry of Interior said the deceased was called Mohamed and that there were no torture signs on his body and died due to “circulatory failure”. A source in the ministry told Daily News Egypt that the victim’s health deteriorated in the cell and police officials attempted to transfer him to hospital but he died before reaching it.
When asked about possible “violations”, the source said that “if any individual in the ministry is suspected of violating human rights, he will be interrogated and punished”. The source cited the case of Kareem Hamdy, with two officers now awaiting a court verdict, accused of torturing a man to death.
This case is the fourth death in police detention this week. Three inmates died in different prisons and police stations since Friday. Two of the incidents were described by circles close to the victims as “medical negligence” while official reports claimed the deaths were natural.
The deaths occurred hours after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s visit to the Police Academy on Thursday, during which he said that “attempts at violating human rights values must be stopped”. During the visit, he addressed students and officers on terrorism and human rights.
The third case allegedly died of torture, according to lawyers following on the case.
Since Friday, state officials, including Al-Sisi and Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, asserted that alleged torture incidents are “individual acts” that should “not affect the relationship between the people and the police apparatus”.
However, a number of Egyptian NGOs and human rights figures are going to commemorate Human Rights Day on Thursday by holding a press conference addressing “police torture”.
The conference is called “Not Individual Acts”, in reference to the official narrative by security entities that torture incidents committed by officers are merely individual practices. The conference will be held in cooperation with the Freedoms Committee of the Press Syndicate and will discuss the human rights situation in Egypt and will hear recommendations from NGOs.
El-Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence reported dozens of torture cases in prisons in November. Their report detailed cases of torture in prisons, forced disappearances, and inadequate healthcare in detention facilities among other police violations committed against prisoners across Egypt.
Incidents of torture in Luxor and Ismailia were reported late November, where the police was accused of torturing two citizens to death.