Cairo Criminal Court postpones trial of three State Security officers accused of torturing five citizens

May 26th, 2013 by Editor

On Sunday 26 May 2013 the Cairo Criminal Court decided to postpone the first hearing of the trial against three former police officers (Emad Siyam, Wael Masilhi, Walid Farouk) to Thursday 30 May 2013, for the prosecutors to present their argument.

The defendants are accused of torturing 5 Egyptian citizens whilst in police custody, stripping them naked and forcing them to confess to belonging to illegal groups.

 

The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) followed the proceedings of the court hearing, which was headed by the judges Abd Al-Salam Goma’a, Dr. Osama Gama’ and Mustafa Al-Bahbiti. The hearing began at eleven thirty in the morning and took place in the judge’s chamber. The accused officers were in attendance; however, the prosecutors refused to enter the chamber and to carry out their role stressing that the hearing should be held public in accordance with the law. Yet, the court explicitly ordered that the trial should be held in the judge’s chamber and pointed out that it is not unlawful as it is a procedural hearing. The court claimed that the civil lawsuit does not prejudice the judgement in the criminal case and consequently the prosecutors were summoned by the court ushers and guards. The court stated that if prosecutors did not attend, it would postpone the trial to the following Thursday so that the prosecutors can present their argument.

 

The public prosecutor accused the first defendant Brigadier Emad Siyam of torture during his time as a public servant at the Interior Ministry between 1987 and 2009 carried out at Abdin Police Station on the following victims: Suleiman Al-Abd Abu Bakr, a 30 year old teacher at the institute Othman Warraq; Ahmed Said Abu Sari’, a 50 year old merchant, and Rafat Tunisy Abd Al-Hamid. He stripped them of their clothes and tortured them with electric shocks in order to extract forced confessions of being part of the group Tala’ Al-Fatah. The second defendant Wael Masilhi is accused of having tortured Muhammad Hassan Othman whom he stripped of his clothes and tortured with electric shock in order to force him to confess to being a member of an Iraqi Resistance Group. Colonel Walid Farouk is accused of torturing Hamid Muhammad Ali Mash’al, a 39 year old architect, swearing at and beating him. Additionally, he is accused of withholding food and imprisoning the victim in order to extract a confession of being involved in bombings and financing Palestinian groups. The prosecutors demanded that the defendants be tried under the existing laws of torture.

 

The court presented the defendants with the charges filed against them. Afterwards, the security guards were surprised by one of the attendants attempting to take pictures and immediately stopped him. However, he turned out to be a prosecutor and not a photojournalist. After this incident, a wave of protests erupted in the courtroom.

 

EHOR considers that an open court is one of the most important guarantees of a just and fair trial. This essentially means that people can attend the trial at every stage and that no information about the trial and its proceedings is withheld from the general public.

The most important aspect is that the public is allowed to enter the courtroom and is able to hear the arguments and discussions; this is one of the inherent principles of justice.

 

EHOR also stresses that Article 171 of the Egyptian Constitution stipulates that court hearings must be open to the public, unless the court decides to make it confidential after considering the potential negative effects on public order and decency. Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that ‘all persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.’

 

 

For his part, Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, head of EOHR, emphasised that torture is a crime against humanity and a violation of international treaties ratified by Egypt, and has now been criminalized by domestic law according to the Constitution. Therefore such acts must be addressed and the perpetrators must be held responsible in order to serve as a deterrent for those tempted to commit torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment.

 

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada also called for the introduction of a set of standards in order to guarantee a fair and just trial. Most importantly trials must be open to the public in order to avoid any attempt at concealing the truth. He also demanded the introduction of a clear definition of torture in Egyptian law that is consistent with international conventions against torture.

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 26th, 2013 at 1:28 pm and is filed under Statements. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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