The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Files a Petition with the Public Prosecutor, Demanding to Open the File on Police Intimidation of Those Injured During the Revolution

Press Release

11 July 2011

Police officers in the Marg Police Department are putting widespread pressure on citizens to drop their complaints, and then pursue citizens who complain about this pressure

Mohamed Marzouk, who is living away from home for fear of his pursuit by police officers, has been held in an undisclosed location so that he would drop his complaint and has suffered threats against his family

The EIPR demands the provision of real protection to him and to all families of the martyrs and the injured

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) has filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor demanding the opening of an immediate investigation into the pressure to which police officers and police chiefs subjected a citizen shot in front of the Marg Police Department on Friday 28th January (the 'Friday of Anger'), in order to force him to drop his complaint against them. Complaint no.16100/2011, filed by the EIPR on 9th July, called on the Public Prosecutor to take all necessary steps to investigate the intimidation of Mohamed Marzouk, and his detention in an undisclosed location, at the hands of police officers and police chiefs who continue to work in the Marg Police Department. There have been widespread reports in the past few weeks that the officers involved have exercised continuous and systematic pressure in order to discourage families of the martyrs and the injured from proceeding with prosecution against them.

Hoda Nasrallah, the EIPR's legal officer, said: "We have long appealed to the Interior Minister to suspend from work the officers involved in the killing of demonstrators, in accordance with the powers of his ministry. Despite that appeal, he has refused to respond and has stuck by his position, even after the instructions issued by the Prime Minister on 9th July to end the service of all police chiefs and officers involved in the killing of revolutionaries."

The Interior Minister, Major General Mansour Issawi, has justified his refusal by saying: 'The Prime Minister does not have the competence to issue any decrees regarding officers who are currently appearing before criminal courts charged with the murder of demonstrators." He added that "the decision is in the hands of the Interior Ministry alone," according to press statements he made the day after the Prime Minister's decree was issued. The minister insisted that he "will not implement any special resolution on officers accused of killing demonstrators, except in accordance with the law." This ignores Article 53 of the Police Act, which recognizes the competence of "the minister, assistant minister, or head of department to suspend an officer from his duties if the interests of an investigation necessitate it." Despite the failure of Issawi to take the action required of him by Article 53, the authority granted to him remains valid as the phases of investigation include trial.

Hoda Nasrallah expressed her concern at the intransigence of the minister over taking such a step, especially since Marzouk and other families of martyrs and the injured in the revolution "are living in a state of constant fear and worry, given the absence of mechanisms available to protect them and their rights. This is also due to the continuing practices of some of the officers of the Interior Ministry, whether it be those who pursue those who file a complaint, or those who refuse to file reports against their colleagues and thus fail to protect citizens."

Mohamed Marzouk, who was shot in front of the Marg police department whilst returning from work on 28th January, reported: "After a period of treatment I regained movement, so I filed a complaint (no.1033/2011) against officers of the Marg police department. This recorded both my injury and, in the same incident, the killing of my colleague as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest."

Despite the filing of the report, and the referral of the accused to a criminal court on 23rd March 2011, police stormed Marzouk's house on the morning of 3rd May. They carried him from his bed into their car, and took him against his will to a building in an undisclosed location where he was held for several hours. Later that day, they forced him to go to withdraw his complaint.

Marzouk, who was under violent pressure from police officers, went on: "Since I do not know how to read or write, my role was limited to approving the retraction. I signed this declaration against my will and out of fear and panic at the police officers' and chiefs' power and influence."

The series of violations did not end there. On 3rd July, Marzouk presented a complaint (no.4161/p) to the Inspection and Oversight sector of the Interior Ministry, detailing what was committed against him by named police officers and police chiefs. He says: "Only three days later, on 6th July 2011, a number of them broke into my house again and threatened my family. I was out of the house at the time, and even now I am afraid to return home for fear of them killing me."

The EIPR has confirmed that the same officers tried to influence other families of martyrs in Marg, but the families did not comply and filed a complaint against them (no. 291/2011).

The EIPR has renewed its calls for the Interior Ministry to abandon its insistence on keeping the officers accused of killing revolutionaries in their positions, given the negative consequences of such a decision on trials already under way. The EIPR calls upon the Interior Ministry to take firm action to deter officers from putting pressure on those who file complaints and to immediately remove them from their jobs. This is in accordance with Articles 47 and 48 of the Police Act. The EIPR also calls for the necessary steps to be taken to protect the families of the martyrs and those injured in the revolution, in order to ensure they are not subjected to pressure or being terrorized by police officers, and to ensure the safety and progress of investigations and trials.