State Security Court Rejects Interior Ministry Appeal of Release Order for Shi’ite Detainees

Press Release

23 August 2010

The Supreme (Emergency) State Security Court rejected yesterday an appeal filed by the Minister of Interior challenging a lower court’s order to release Mohamed Farouq Mohamed al-Sayyed, who was detained because of his affiliation with the Shi’ite confession. The Supreme Court ordered the release of the detainee and upheld an order issued on 28 July by another circuit court. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) called upon the Minister of Interior to immediately implement the ruling issued by the court in appeal no. 3155/2010 and release al-Sayyed along with seven other Shi’ite citizens who have been detained for more than a year without trial. The Ministry of Interior had renewed their detention orders immediately after the legal modifications introduced to the application of the State of Emergency in June 2010.

The EIPR also said today that this case reveals the new stratagem employed by the Interior Ministry to circumvent the recently introduced change that limits the application of exceptional measures under the State of Emergency to suspects in terrorism or drug-trafficking cases. When State Security Investigations submitted a copy of the detention order for Mohamed Farouq to the court, the EIPR found that the order is simply a standard, pre-printed form that can be submitted to the (Emergency) State Security Court in all detention cases, the only difference being the name of the detainee and the date of detention. This standard form contains a paragraph that reads as follows: the detainee “is among those involved in planning and organizing terrorist operations (assault/assassination/sabotage/attack)…and among those who have reverted to violence to impose their will…due to their erroneous understanding of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil.”

“With the submission of this detention order, State Security police are making a mockery of the law and the judiciary," says Adel Ramadan, Legal Officer at the EIPR. "This is a standard form in which charges are to be chosen from a pre-determined selection listed in parentheses. The only thing that needs to be added is the detainee’s name. We’ve seen this form used in more than one case, it makes no distinction from one detainee to the next. In fact, it appears to have been drafted precisely to fit the new application of the Emergency Law while allowing the security apparatus to preserve its absolute authority,” he continued.

The Interior Ministry detained Mohamed Farouq and 11 others because of their affiliation with the Shi’ite confession in April and May 2009, as part of what was dubbed the Hassan Shehata Group case. In June 2009, the Supreme State Security Prosecutor questioned the suspects in the case (no. 624/2009/Supreme State Security) on charges of forming an organization for the purpose of propagating Shi’ite ideas that disparage Islam and Sunni confessions. The prosecutor issued an order releasing all 12 suspects in October 2009, but the Ministry of Interior renewed the detention of eight of the suspects. Although the (Emergency) State Security Court has issued several release orders for the remaining detainees, the Interior Ministry has refused to implement them.

The case of the Shi’ite detainees clearly shows how easy it is to concoct false charges of terrorism against citizens to justify their detention without trial. Mohamed Farouq was questioned by the State Security Prosecutor for three months about his affiliation with Shi’ism — a flagrant violation of his constitutional rights. Not once during these interrogations was he ever queried about his involvement in violence or terrorism. Based on these interrogations, the prosecutor issued a release order, but the Interior Ministry renewed his detention on false grounds.

On 8 August, the EIPR filed a complaint against the Egyptian government with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention regarding the detention of Mohamed Farouq and the seven other Shi’ites. In the complaint, the EIPR stated that the detention of the eight citizens for their Shi’ite affiliations constitutes arbitrary detention, particularly since the detainees have received five orders from the Supreme (Emergency) State Security Court overturning their detention, none of which the Ministry of Interior has implemented.

For more information, see:

State Security Court Orders Interior Ministry to Release Shi’ite Detainees - 29 July 2010