Mahmoud Hussein – known as the anti-torture t-shirt detainee – began his fifth day of illegal detention, after being held in remand for more than 730 days consecutively.
The Egyptian Code of Criminal Procedures states in Article 143 that the maximum period for pre-trial detention is two years.
Hussein’s brother Tarek ‘Tito’ Hussein, a member of the freedoms committee at Al-Dostour Party, told Daily News Egypt Saturday that the family was awaiting a response to the official report that the family sent to the Prosecutor General on Wednesday.
The state-affiliated National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) has not made any ostensible effort to advocate for Hussein’s release during his two-year detention period. In comments to Daily News Egypt that were limited in scope to the past five days of Hussein’s illegal detention, prominent NCHR member Nasser Amin attributed the delays in his release to bureaucratic inefficiency.
Still, Amin conceded to the illegitimacy of Hussein’s detention. “Hussein and many others are facing illegal conditions of detention, whether exceeding the maximum legal period or held without grounds,” he commented.
His detention situation is similar to that of detained photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid “Shawkan”. The local and international human rights’ community have condemned his prolonged detention. Abu Zeid’s case was referred to court days after the legal maximum period of remand was reached.
Abu Zeid was arrested on 14 August 2013 while documenting the violent security dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-ins. He completed 730 days in remand on 14 August 2015.
The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) consistently has called Abu Zeid’s continue detention illegal. To date, Abu Zeid has been subject to an additional 169 of detention in addition to the two-year detention period.
Hussein was arrested on 25 January 2014, along with Islam Talaat. Official reports do not include further defendants beyond these two. The case remains to be referred to court. Hussein spent his 20th birthday on 1 January 2016 in prison.
Moreover, Hussein has been prevented from attending sessions to renew his detention, which must be renewed every 45 days, more than 20 times. This has resulted in postponements that have extended the period of his detention outside the legal parameters that allow for such extensions. In September 2015, the court heard an appeal filed by Hussein’s lawyers but rejected it.
The Ministry of Interior, who is in charge of transferring Hussein to be presented in court before a judge, has repeatedly claimed that it cannot move Hussein due to ‘security reasons,’ as has been documented by the AFTE.
According to Tito, Hussein was only interrogated once during the two years of his imprisonment.
Hussein is charged with being a member of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Tito has questioned repeatedly the correlation between the length of his brother’s detention and the time it should take for the prosecution to conclude their investigation.
The case of Mahmoud Hussein has sparked international concern. Amnesty International (AI) launched a campaign calling for Hussein’s unconditional release. Awareness of Hussein’s case has also increased on the local level, as more public figures have voiced their support for the detainee in the past few months.
Those who have objected to Hussein’s continued detention not only include prominent activists, members of the Al-Dostour Party, among other well-known personalities, but also pro-state TV host Youssef El-Husseiny who addressed the issue and hosted Tito on his television show. However, the topic has not been discussed on other local television outlets.
On Friday, Ambassador Samantha Power, the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, posted the following on her social media accounts: “Mahmoud Mohamed was detained 2 years ago in #Egypt for peaceful protest. He & those trying to improve their country should be released.”
Tito has actively advocated for his young brother’s cause over the course of two years.
A Facebook page entitled “Free Mahmoud Mohamed” has gathered over 8,000 followers .
Tito recently appeared in a video report by The Guardian, in which he read a letter he received from Hussein. “It will get better, Tarek. Hopefully God will unite us soon, and life will be beautiful, regardless of all its hardships,” Tito read.
In a previous interview with Daily News Egypt, Tito communicated his conviction that detention has ‘become a punishment tool in itself, used against the youth.”
Article 143 stated the period of pre-trial detention during preliminary investigations cannot exceed the third of the maximum penalty for the crime committed. Therefore, it is set at six months for misdemeanour crimes, 18 months for criminal offences, and two years in case of crimes that have received a life sentence or the death penalty.
However, in September 2013, former interim president Adly Mansour introduced amendments to the article. The change allowed for an open-detention period in cases where a first degree verdict was issued that mandated the death penalty or life in prison.