June 17th, 2013 by Editor
On June 17, 2013, the Criminal Court of Alexandria ruled the acquittal of Ahmed Mustafa Kamel El Boray, a State Security officer of Alexandria. He was the fourth accused person on the murder of the young salafist Sayed Bilal. This was the second trial on this case, following the demand of both the accused Mahmud Abdel Alim, a State Security officer of the Explosives Department, and Osama El Konaissi. Officer Abdel Alim was acquitted last December during the new trial, but Osama El Konaissi in April 2013, was given 15 years sentence.
In the first trial, the Criminal Court had sentenced to life imprisonment, in absentia, four officers of the State Security (Hossam El Shanawy, Assama El Kenissi, Mahmud Abdel Alim and Ahmed Mustafa Kamel) and condemned the accused present, Mohamed El Shimy, known as Alaa Zidan, at 15 years of prison.
On January 5, 2011, in the morning, the State Security detectives had arrested the young salafist Sayed Bilal with a whole group of salafists as part of the investigation into the bombing at the Saints Church in Alexandria. The consequences of this bombing, which happened during the New Year night, were 21 dead and hundreds injured. During the investigation at the headquarters of the State Security at Labban, Sayed Bilal had been tortured to death by officers, and then had been transferred to the medical center of Zakeleh.
EOHR considers that this new acquittal sentence for an accused on the murder of Sayed Bilal confirms that we are in a major legislative crisis. At the top of this crisis is article no. 126 of the Egyptian Penal Code, which states that “Any public servants who orders the torture of an accused or who does it himself to extract a forced confession should be punished by penal labor or a prison sentence between three and ten years; if the victim dies the perpetrator is tried for premeditated murder”. The motivation of perpetrators (to extract confession) should not be essential in the definition of the torture crime; it should be enough that the public servant allows, encourages or practices torture when acting as representative of the public authority, to call him a criminal.
Therefore article no. 126 of the Egyptian Penal Code is still seriously criticized by the law experts in Egypt. It does not provide the necessary legal protections to the human right of physical and mental integrity. It does not fit with the provisions of the international Convention Against Torture, ratified by Egypt in 1986, thus becoming a full-fledged part of the Egyptian law. Moreover motivations for using torture against detainees are far more manifold than the single case of confession extraction. For example, torture is also used for revenge or in order to identify politically or ideologically the captives.
Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of EOHR, stressed on the urgent need to amend the Egyptian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedures regarding the torture crime. The culture of torture, which is always adopted in Egypt to satisfy the corrupted ruling systems, which might lead to torturing people to death by the security institutions in Egypt, has to be replaced with policing procedures matching the international standards of human rights connected to combating torture.
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