In a Detailed Testimony from the Sidelines of the Events in Abbassiya: EIPR Lodges Complaint for Activist Gharbeia's Unlawful Detention

Press Release

28 July 2011

On Tuesday the 26th July, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor concerning the illegal detention of Amr Gharbeia, its Technology and Freedoms Progra Officer, at the hands of three people who claimed that he was a spy and member of the April 6th Movement. During his detention, which lasted about eight hours, Gharbeia underwent various forms of physical and verbal attacks.

The complaint (no. 9281/2011) included details of how Gharbeia was grabbed from amongst his colleagues in the area of the Demerdash metro station. Gharbeia was on the sidelines of the peaceful march that was violently intercepted in Abbassiya Square by dozens of civilians, a number of which are believed to have been paid off and do not belong to the residential area of Abbasiya. On their part, Central Security Forces deployed to the area refrained from intervening and disengaging for some time, and only surrounded the demonstrators and those attacking them, until they finally fired tear gas to disperse both sides.

Assistant Public Prosecutor, Counselor Adel al-Said, referred the complaint submitted by the EIPR, to the West Cairo prosecutor's office same day it was presented. The day after filing the complaint – the 27th July – Gharbeia made a statement before Chief Prosecutor, Ahmed Said Habib, who decided to send him to a forensic doctor the next day to examine him.

The complaint identified three individuals – Hassan Ghandour, Karim Hussein, and another person whom Gharbeia could not identify – as being the ringleaders in pulling Gharbeia out of the crowd and accusing him of being a spy and a member of the April 6th Movement. They said to him: 'You're a spy, you're from the April 6th group that General Ruwaini spoke about, what did you come here for, you came from Tahrir.' They continued to provoke and incite him, and did not leave him alone until after the confirmation of a military police station, military investigators, and the General Intelligence Agency that they did not want to arrest Gharbeia and he is not wanted by them.

These three individuals also called on passers-by to attack Gharbeia, and took some of his belongings, before bringing him to the headquarters of the General Intelligence Service. They tore his clothes and took videos of him against his will while he was handcuffed. It is unclear where these handcuffs came from; they were put on his hands by a person in civilian clothes, a volunteer in the campaign of persecution of the 'spy.'

Attached to the complaint were recordings in which two of the three who carried out the detention and abuse appeared as guests on a satellite channel to talk about how they 'handed over' Amr Gharbeia to the relevant security authorities. This facilitates the prosecution's investigations with regard to the facts of the kidnapping, theft, intimidation, and assault on the Technology and Freedoms Officer of the EIPR. This is especially relevant since Gharbeia did not have access to all of the accused's identifying information.

The complaint considers what was done by the accused to be a crime under the Penal Code, which deals with arrests and detentions carried out by a person or agency without any law enforcement rank, or without any representative of the law being present. The three who illegally detained and assaulted Gharbeia were not law enforcement officers or men of authority; in addition, the defamation, insults, beating and robbery which they carried out, along with the incitement of passers-by to carry out similar criminal acts, are considered unlawful.

The EIPR condemned what Amr Gharbeia was subjected to, considering it a crime of assault and that it should be the subject of a serious investigation by prosecutors. Furthermore, it believes the case does not just have criminal dimensions, but also a clear and undeniable political slant.

The EIPR also warned of the danger of what happened to Gharbeia becoming common practice, and thus turning into a pattern of intimidation of activists, lawyers, and civilians who try to express their positions and opinions peacefully.