Thursday, November 29, 2007

Seven year prison terms for police station manslaughter

On Tuesday evening the Mansoura Criminal Court convicted three policemen, a captain and two informers of torturing a man to death, a fourth man received a lighter sentence of three years.

The incident occured on July 31st , when Nasr Ahmed Abdullah, a carpenter was taken into custody and held without charges when police was searching for his brother in the village of Telbana, 110 Km north of Cairo. He was later taken to hospital where he died. The cause of death was determined as internal bleeding close to the brain.

This is the harshest sentence in a similar case for the last ten years according to Gasser Abd al Razeq from the Human Rights watch. It´s also the second prison verdict in a torture case in three weeks time. The high publicity case of Imad al Kabir , who got sodomized at the Bulaq ad Daqrour police station in Giza, the torture was filmed on cell phone and subsequently and intentionally circulated among Imad al Kabir´s working collegues by the same police officers, who tortured him as a reminder to mind their own business and a source of blamengé for the young micro buss driver. What none of his tormentors had intended or expected was that this film would be passed on to bloggers, whom put it on their blogs and uploaded it to You Tube, among others, and then headlines in the newspapers. Suddenly the film was evidence against the police officers. The three year sentence that Imad al Kabir´s torturer´s got was the lightest possible, but justice has prevailed more than usual this November.

Human Rights Organizations claims that torture is widespread and systematic, something that the state refutes, although it admits to occasional cases were individuals make mistakes. These two sentences is hopefully the beginning of a new page in terms of taking torture cases involving police and innocent citizens seriously. I am very pessimistic though. There are ample cases to suggest that the opposite is still the norm. Just to days after the sentences in the Imad al Kabir case, came the next dead victim in the Omraniyya police station case. If the government wants to address the issue in a positive way, they could start by expanding the definition of torture in Egyptian law according to their international obligations. This would be a good sign of The Egyptian state taking their role role as a current member on the UN Human Rights Council seriously. A positive step has recently been taken by the state affiliated National Council for Human Rights, something that i salute. It would be nice if their friends in the same building could take notice of their work.

In a partially related story, the blogger who has made it one of his trademarks to create a space for these kind of videos, has got his You Tube account suspended and the videos showing torture or mistreatment at police stations removed. Wael Abbas happens to be a very good journalist, and among the most talented bloggers the Arab World has produced and it´s such a shame that You Tube does not take the opportunity to stand up for such a basic issue as torture. The BBC has a You Tube ¨channel¨, would anyone ever fathom the idea of you tube suspending the BBC, because of them showing graphic images from Abu Ghu´raib for instance?

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Blogger Kevin said...

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6:14 AM  

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