Reports of police torture sparks uproar in Egypt
Egyptian protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by riot police during a Cairo demonstration, April 25, 2016. (AFP Photo/Mohamed el-Shahed)
Reports that an Egyptian street vendor was tortured to death inside a Cairo police station has sparked uproar on social media and led to calls for an investigation into the alleged incident.
Relatives of Magdi Makeen say the 50-year-old fish seller was detained by police Sunday in Egypt’s capital while driving his fish cart.
Shortly afterward, they allege, he was tortured to death inside Cairo’s Al-Amiriya police station.
Police say Makeen, who was pronounced dead on Sunday, had been caught selling drugs.
Mina Boles, Makeen’s nephew, told Anadolu Agency that the slain man’s family had filed three separate complaints with the local authorities in which they blamed a local police officer for Makeen’s death.
"My uncle was just a fish vendor," Boles said. "Whatever he did, he didn’t deserve to be tortured to death."
Social activists have since launched a campaign on Twitter to demand accountability for Makeen’s death, while video footage has been widely circulated on social media that purportedly shows the victim’s body bearing signs of torture.
Ali al-Halawani, a lawyer for Makeen’s family, told Anadolu Agency that an official report was filed with public prosecutors on Thursday alleging that the vendor had been "tortured and murdered".
"Prosecutors are awaiting a final report on the victim’s body by the forensic authorities," al-Halawani said.
If the report concludes that Makeen was in fact tortured to death, the lawyer added, "charges will be formally brought against the suspected police officer".
Gamal Eid, a prominent Egyptian lawyer and rights activist, said via Twitter: "The Magdi Makeen incident was sadistic and criminal".
Television presenter Yousef al-Husseini, for his part, tweeted: "Based on the photos and videos I’ve seen that purportedly show Makin’s body, the interior minister [Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar] should be questioned by parliament and an autopsy should be conducted in the presence of a parliamentary committee."
In a statement issued earlier this week, Deputy Interior Minister Tarek Attia told reporters that Makeen had "died Sunday due to circulatory collapse after being detained with two others while in possession of drugs".
Widespread police brutality was one of the main reasons behind Egypt’s 2011 popular uprising, which led autocratic President Hosni Mubarak to step down after 30 years in power.