Egypt police officials charged with murdering protesters

[JURIST] An Egyptian prosecutor indicted three police officials [al-Masry al-Youm report] from the Beni Suef governorate on Monday on charges of murdering protesters during the Egyptian revolution. According to judicial sources, Major General Ahmed Abu Zeid, Colonel Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud and Colonel Mohamed Othman face charges of attempted murder and murder. The charges stem from a January 28 incident where police firing in Beni Suef resulted in 19 deaths and 300 injuries. Low-ranking officials have also been indicted with the same charges. The public prosecutors requested that security force find and detain fugitive officers. Last week, Egyptian Attorney General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud charged former interior minister Habib el-Adly [BBC report] with "pre-meditated and deliberate killing" of protesters. He is charged with opening fire on protesters and deploying the military when protesters violently clashed with security forces on January 28.

Egypt has been heavily criticized by rights groups and international organizations for its handling of protesters. On Thursday, a commission of Arab and Egyptian human rights groups accused [JURIST report] former president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile] and the police of murdering protesters during the demonstrations in Egypt. In February, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported new evidence that the Supreme Military Council of Egypt had been torturing protester-detainees [JURIST report]. Through various detainee accounts, AI stated that individuals were tortured "to intimidate protesters and to obtain information about plans for the protests." Also in February, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported that the Egyptian military was improperly detaining protesters and allowing prisoner abuse [JURIST report]. The report calculated at least 119 arbitrary detentions and five incidents of torture, providing detainee accounts. HRW contends that the military was targeting human rights activists, protesters and journalists. In January, UN officials including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay [official websites], urged the Egyptian government to exercise restraint [JURIST report] and respect the rights of protesters. Pillay acknowledged reports of tactics including rubber-coated bullets, tear gas, water cannons and batons, and called on the government to investigate the reports of excessive force including civilian deaths.

 

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