Sunday,23 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1130, 10 - 16 January 2013
Sunday,23 September, 2018
Issue 1130, 10 - 16 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Just another report?

Two years after Egypt’s 25 January Revolution will those responsible for the killing of protesters now finally be punished, asks Mohamed Abdel-Baky

Al-Ahram Weekly

The fact-finding committee formed by President Mohamed Morsi to investigate the killings of protesters during and after Egypt’s 25 January Revolution handed its report to the Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdallah on Tuesday, following its presentation to Morsi himself last week.
In a statement, the presidency said the committee has decided not to reveal the details of the 700-page report, in order to give the prosecution-general the opportunity to carry out its tasks.
The fact-finding committee was formed on 5 July last year, following a presidential decree made just days after Morsi was sworn in as president. It held its first meeting at the presidency’s headquarters on 9 July.
The committee was tasked with looking into crimes carried out against protesters from the onset of the revolution and until the end of the transitional period in June 2012, during which the former ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) bore responsibility for the country.
On its website, the committee said it had reviewed the procedures implemented by the judiciary, highlighting any shortcomings, examined the locations where incidents took place, and gathered evidence, including information on crimes carried out against protesters but never investigated.
Following a meeting at the presidential palace, Morsi ordered the head of the committee, Mohamed Sharbas, and its secretary-general, Omar Marwan, to send the report to the prosecutor-general in order that he could investigate the new evidence included in the report.
The president stressed the need to “give the prosecution the opportunity to begin investigations without external influences, since the prosecution is responsible for determining the position of the defendants and evaluating the evidence provided in the report.”
The committee included judges, legal activists, and representatives from the Interior Ministry and intelligence authority among its members, as well as members of the families of the victims.
Ahmed Ragheb, a member of the committee and a human rights activist, said that the report included new evidence indicating the involvement of former officials in the military and at the Ministry of Interior in the killing of the protesters.
“The report clearly indicates that security officials and the military used live ammunition more than once to disperse protesters,” he added.
Despite the report not being made public, several Egyptian newspapers have published leaked parts of the report. According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, the report concluded that security forces deployed to disperse protesters during the revolution had used firearms with live bullets against demonstrators.
The report also says that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak watched an encrypted TV channel to personally follow the events in Tahrir Square from 28 January to 11 February 2011.
Former minister of information Anas Al-Fiqi had allocated the channel to Mubarak. The committee also met former interior minister Habib Al-Adli, who said that Mubarak had received first-hand reports during the revolution.
When questioned ahead of his trial last year, Mubarak said he had been kept in the dark by his aides as to the gravity of the situation and fended off charges that he had ordered or knew about the use of deadly force.
Mubarak was later imprisoned for life for failing to prevent the killing of protesters during the uprising.
“Mubarak knew of all the crimes that took place directly. The developments were carried to him live, and he didn’t even need the security reports,” said Ragheb. “This entails his legal responsibility for the violence used against the protesters.”
In a media briefing, committee members said the report had recommended the summoning of hundreds of those implicated in the killing of the protesters, but they did not name names out of fears that such individuals may flee the country.
Some of those indicated are military leaders whose names were also mentioned during investigations into events that took place during SCAF rule, such as the Maspero and Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes.
The report also called upon the Shura Council to take urgent steps to amend the military code to allow investigations into army officers implicated in the killing of demonstrators over the last 18 months. The current code states that “army officers may only be tried by military prosecutors.”
The SCAF has repeatedly denied ordering the use of live ammunition against protesters, despite reports by rights groups that hold the army responsible for this.
The report said that at least one of the nearly 70 people who have been declared missing since the uprising was tortured and died in a military prison. It also detailed abuse by military and security officers in the days following Mubarak’s ouster, including the beating and abuse of women protesters and the conducting of “virginity tests” to intimidate or humiliate them.
Hafez Abu Seada, director of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, a NGO, said that the prosecutor-general cannot retry Mubarak on the same charges under the Egyptian penal code whatever the new information contained in the report.
He added that the same legal principle also applied to prosecuting Interior Ministry officials acquitted of ordering the killing of protesters.  
One of the issues that has stirred media debate over the report is whether the Muslim Brotherhood played any role in the violence against the protesters during the revolution.
The controversy started after Egyptian media outlets published information to the effect that the fact-finding committee could have evidence that some Brotherhood leaders had been involved in violence against protesters during the “Battle of Camel” during the revolution through an armed group called the “95 Unit”.
The “Battle of the Camel”, which occurred on 2 February 2011, saw thousands of Mubarak supporters attack protesters in Tahrir Square from the backs of camels or horses. On the same day, snipers were reportedly seen firing live ammunition from surrounding rooftops, killing 11 demonstrators.
A number of Mubarak-era figures said to be involved in the battle were later acquitted by a court ruling because of the absence of evidence that could convict them.
However, Mohsen Bahnasi, a member of the committee, told MBC Masr Channel that the only information the committee had about the 95 Unit had come from the testimony of two lawyers, Khaled Al-Desouki and Raef Bishara, who had presented a video of an Al-Jazeera interview with Brotherhood member and current minister of youth Osama Yassin in July 2011, in which he talked about the “95 Unit”.
“We took the lawyers’ testimony into consideration and recommended that the prosecutor-general should investigate such claims,” Bahnasi added.
Yassin has said in an article published in the newspaper of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) that Brotherhood members had climbed onto rooftops surrounding Tahrir Square in order to protect demonstrators after they were shot by live ammunition. There was no such group as the 95 Unit in the Brotherhood, he said.  
Brotherhood lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud said in a statement that the Brotherhood had played an important role during the Revolution to protect the people and to overthrow the regime.
“We firmly reject as totally false allegations that the Muslim Brotherhood has any such unit. We believe in peaceful change, and we have never used violence against anybody,” he said.

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