New Court Ruling for Release of Shi'a Detainee

Press Release

8 November 2004

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights today renewed its call for the release of Mohamed Ramadan Hussein El-Dirini after a new court ruling was issued in his favor last week.

A Supreme State Security Emergency Court issued a final ruling to release Mohamed El-Dirini on 25 November after EIPR lawyers had filed petition number 35961 of 2004 against El-Dirini's detention under the Emergency Law. The Court upheld a ruling to the same effect that it had issued last month, which was then contested by the Interior Ministry. The ruling has yet to be implemented.

The EIPR had obtained a similar ruling that ordered the release of El-Dirini on 8 June 2004 and it was upheld after Interior Ministry's appeal on 5 July 2004. The Interior Ministry refused to implement the ruling in violation of the Emergency Law and issued a new administrative detention order, in clear manipulation of the law and the court rulings. The EIPR has also submitted two complaints to the Office of the Prosecutor General concerning El-Dirini's detention, the last of which was submitted on 14 September. The Office of the Prosecutor General has failed so far to respond to both complaints.

State Security Intelligence officers have arrested Mohamed El-Dirini from his house on 22 March 2004 and he was detained with a group of Egyptian Shi'a Muslims who were arrested around the same time in Wadi El-Natroun Prison. While all the other detainees were released, El-Dirini remains in detention for over 8 months without ever appearing before a judicial body or being officially charged. El-Dirini was later transferred to the Abu-Za'bal Prison and information received recently by the EIPR indicates that he was transferred again to El-Wadi EL-Gedid Prison on 21 November.

A report issued by the EIPR's Right to Privacy Program last August and entitled 'Freedom of Religion and the Arrests of Shi'a Muslims in Egypt' detailed the numerous violations that the detainees in this crackdown suffered since it began in November 2003. These violations included arbitrary arrests, illegal and incommunicado detention, torture and ill-treatment, violation of the rights to freedom of religion and to privacy, and recurrent administrative detention and violations of the right to freedom and to fair trial.

"The Interior Ministry has failed for over eight months now to charge Mohamed El-Dirini or introduce any evidence against him, and the court established under the Emergency Law has twice found that he posed no threat to national security," said Hossam Bahgat, Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. "There should be no further delay in releasing him and investigating violations that he and the other detainees have witnesses while in detention."