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Ashraf Shehata defence lawyer calls on NCHR to officially investigate his disappearance - Daily News Egypt

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Ashraf Shehata defence lawyer calls on NCHR to officially investigate his disappearance

After two years of disappearance, similarity in names causes controversy on defendant’s whereabouts


The defence lawyer for the missing Ashraf Shehata called on the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) to open an official investigation into his case, following its report on enforced disappearances.

“We know through informal sources that Shehata is detained but there is nothing confirmed about his case; many former detainees said they saw him,” Haleem Henish, a lawyer at the Association of Freedom and Thought and Expression (AFTE), told Daily News Egypt Tuesday.

During their meetings with interior ministry deputy for communication Abo Bakr Abdel Kareem, he told them that they will search for him. However, Henish said they are dealing with the case as a missing person, not as a detainee.

The Ministry of Interior revealed the whereabouts of 118 citizens inquired for by the state-affiliated National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) upon receiving complaints of “alleged enforced disappearances”.

In a Friday statement, NCHR published the response received by the ministry. NCHR filed 190 missing person complaints with the ministry and demanded a clarification as to their whereabouts.

Among the listed names were Ashraf Shehata, but when Henish and his wife Maha Mekkawy went to search for him in the Interior Ministry’s prison directory, with his real name “Raafat”, they said they do not have this name.

When they asked about his common name, “Ashraf”, they discovered that he is in Zagazig Prison, spending a five year imprisonment term. However, shortly afterwards, the Interior Ministry spokesperson told them that NCHR put down an incorrect name on the list that was presented to them, which did not include any Dostour Party members.

Henish said the ministry told them there was a mistake in the names, and it will take time to get back to them about whether the name listed was the one they are looking for or not.

“We call for retribution for the employee who wrote his name wrong and also we hold the ministry accountable for the disappearance of Shehata, and for any harm this might bring him,” Henish said.

A strong supporter of Mohamed El-Baradei and a member of Al-Dostour Party, Sherif is believed to have been arrested by National Security according to his wife’s claims. Mekkawy, who is also a Dostour Party member, maintains his arrest, despite the lack of physical evidence.

In an earlier interview with Daily News Egypt, Mekkawy said he disappeared in mid-January 2014 on his way to meet some friends.

“Usually, we speak on the phone the entire time, but when I tried calling him, his phone was off. Nobody had seen him. We looked for him in every place you could imagine,” she said.


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