Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1376, (11-17 January 2018)
Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Issue 1376, (11-17 January 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Police investigated

Two policemen have been detained following the death of Mohamed Abdel-Hakim while in police custody, reports Ahmed Morsy



On Monday South Cairo Prosecution ordered the detention of a police officer and a policeman for four days pending investigations into the death of Mohamed Abdel-Hakim, aka Afroto.

The detention order was issued after prosecutors received an initial forensic report which showed “one of the detainees’ left rib was broken resulting in severe laceration to the spleen and abdominal bleeding”. The prosecution ordered the autopsy after ascertaining Abdel-Hakim’s body “showed no outward injuries”. A final forensic report, which will also show whether Abdel-Hakim had been using drugs, is expected to be ready within two weeks.

Abdel-Hakim was arrested on Friday with two of his friends in Cairo’s Al-Moqattam district on charges of drug dealing. They were taken to Al-Moqattam police station where, less than an hour later, Abdel-Hakim was transferred to hospital. According to security sources he died in hospital of a drug overdose. Abdel-Hakim’s relatives and friends accuse the police of beating him to death.

“I was standing with Afroto and another friend on the corner of our street when eight policemen tried to arrest us. Afroto ran away but one of the policemen tripped him. He fell on his chest and they began to beat him,” one of Abdel-Hakim’s friends told Al-Ahram Weekly.

“We were taken to the police station and locked in a cell. Afroto was lying on the floor in pain and we were banging on the door for help. After about 10 minutes a policeman came. We told him Afroto was dying and he said ‘we didn’t care’ and closed the door again.”

“Minutes later his mouth began to foam and we started banging again. They came and took him away. They released us within hours, after clashes erupted in front of the station.”

As news of Abdel-Hakim’s death spread his friends and relatives gathered in front of the police station. A video that went viral on social media shows them throwing stones and Molotov cocktails and setting fire to tyres. Security sources say two police cars were burned and the windows of seven other cars parked in front of the police station were smashed.

Forty-three protesters were arrested. Prosecutors ordered their detention for four days on charges of attempting to break into a police station and vandalism of public and private property.

“I received a call from one of Afroto’s friends telling me that he had been arrested. Half an hour later I got another call telling me he had died in hospital,” says Afroto’s brother. “I rushed to the hospital and they let me see his body to show he had not been tortured. His body had no marks or wounds. But how could he die by himself?”

According to his neighbours, Abdel-Hakim, who worked as a painter, was “lovable and respectable with everyone”.

A video leaked after Abdel-Hakim’s death showed two people examining the body to show it bore no signs of torture.

The dead man’s friends and neighbours stormed the hospital on the day of his death and retrieved Abdel-Hakim’s body which they took to his family. Hours later police turned up at the family home and convinced them to return the body to the hospital.

“They told us to return his body to the hospital so an autopsy could be conducted and said we would receive official permission to bury him later so we sent his body back,” says Abdel-Hakim’s brother.

Police claim Abdel-Hakim was dealing Strox, a synthetic drug of which he was a heavy user. A second leaked video, showing Abdel-Hakim’s father in the police, appeared to confirm the police story that the dead man used Strox.

The video, broadcast on Saturday’s episode the Kol Youm (Everyday) talk show, shows Abdel-Hakim’s father admitting to a police officer that his son smoked Strox in the street.

“I tried to prevent him from smoking and I beat him more than once to discipline him. It’s not only him, almost all the young men in the neighbourhood smoke Strox. His friends told us he was dealing but when I confronted him he denied it,” says the father.

Hafez Abu Seada, head of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR), says the leaking of the videos is a criminal offence.

“Police investigations should not have been leaked. The law clearly states investigations must be confidential and any leaks are an attempt to prejudice the case,” Abu Seada told TV host Lamis Al-Hadidi.

“The leaks are a crime and an attempt to influence the judiciary. I demand the Interior Ministry to hold accountable those who recorded and leaked these videos.”

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