Egypt: Security detains student, refuses to release him after 17 court rulings

24 Sep 2009, written by

Egypt: Security detains student, refuses to release him after 17 court rulings

24 September 2009

19-year-old Alawi has been in detention for nearly two years. -Mahalla to Cairo19-year-old Alawi has been in detention for nearly two years. -Mahalla to Cairo

by Bikya Masr Staff

CAIRO: Mohamed Abdel-Qader Alawi , a 19-year-old student at the Faculty of Industrial Education of Helwan University, was arrested by security on June 19, 2007, and taken to the State Security headquarters in Cairo’s Nasr City neighborhood. According to Mohamed Mare’e, who runs the “Mahalla to Cairo” went through the “ugliest forms of torture for a whole month,” where he was “shocked by electricity and was beaten and the state security issued an arrest record against him.”

He was reportedly transferred to a detention center in Damanhour, in the northern Delta region, where he was jailed along with a number of “extremist” detainees.

The blog said that at first, “we would think that Mohammed Alawi has radical tendencies and extremist, but then we would find out that Mohammed is a victim of abuses and violations of state security that used to disrespect the laws, norms and charters of human rights, which guarantees human dignity and protect the right of being tried by a neutral judge and that the verdicts would be implemented without a delay or an intransigence and without circumvention of laws such as the exceptional laws known as the ‘Emergency Law’.”

The case has brought much attention to the continued intransigence of the Egyptian security forces and the interior ministry, who routinely refuse to release prisoners, even after local courts issue release orders. This has become commonplace, where scores of Egyptian citizens continue to languish in detention well beyond their releases have been issued.

Alawi himself has been ordered released 17 times, but with the Emergency Law continuing to rule Egypt, the interior ministry can simply “re-arrest” the individual and hold him for an additional 15 days, with an option to continue the stay.

“Courts simply do not have any power in Egypt any longer and this is obvious in these kinds of cases, where people simply do not get their rights heard,” said Fardous Ali of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR). The Cairo-based rights organization has been instrumental in documenting police abuses in the country, but the interior ministry is still having their way with prisoners, Ali argues.

Alawi’s father, Abdul Qader Mohamed Alawi said that during the investigation with his son by the officers of State Security investigations in Nasr city, “he [the younger Alawi] wasn’t charged with anything, except that he was subjected to beatings, torture and that they forced him to admit as a witness on a group of people, whom his cousin Ahmed was a part of, forced him to witness that the group was planning to travel to Iraq to join the fighters there and training in the use of arms in Egypt in preparation for traveling,” he was quoted by the blog as saying.

His father also said that Alawi was staying with his cousin the previous year before he was arrested, and that this cousin, Ahmed, a student at Al Azhar University, lived in an apartment in Nasr City. “When Ahmed and the group were arrested, State Security began to search for the people who used to live in this apartment and those who were related to the group of detainees, so they arrested Mohamed, even though he left the apartment a year before he was arrested.”

The interior ministry to implement of any of the verdicts demanding Alawi’s release. When Bikya Masr called the ministry, an offical said that they had “no idea who you are talking about” and “we respect the judiciary in this country and take seriously the demands for releasing prisoners, but there are national security concerns that we cannot discuss.”

Alawi’s father fears his son could become depressed, or worse, as a result of the poor mental and physical nature of Egyptian jails. He said that his son’s continued detention “may lead to suicide, as happened with many cases in the Damanhour prison, specifically for people who had been arrested before had committed suicide out of desperation and horror at the extent of the injustice done to them.”

For now, Alawi and his family await his release and are hopeful that a growing campaign for their son will allow him to come home, sooner rather than later.

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