Lawyers in defenestration case denied access to investigations

Lawyers representing a man allegedly tortured and thrown by police from the third floor of a police station in the Delta Governorate of Daqahlia have been denied access to investigations into the case.

Dekerne’s town prosecutor refused to allow lawyers to attend investigations held Tuesday in el-Mansoura International Hospital where Mohamed Salah, 18, is undergoing treatment after falling three storeys.

“Interrogations took place in the absence of lawyers and in the presence of the very same persons who assaulted Salah earlier in the police station,” said Haitham Mohamedein, a lawyer from el-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence.

“We will present a report to Egypt’s Prosecutor General requesting the investigations to take place under a higher level prosecutor,” added Mohamedein, who so far has not been allowed by the local prosecutor to read the investigation report.

Earlier on Saturday, Salah was arrested as part of a police campaign carrying out checks on tuk-tuk (three-wheeler) licenses in Beni Abed, a village in Daqahlia north-east of Cairo. 

The police account of events is that Salah threw himself from the police station’s bathroom window, whereas human rights organizations believe he was thrown from the chief investigator’s room.

“It’s impossible for someone who is being interrogated to ask for the bathroom while he’s in the chief investigator’s room,” said Mohamadein, who explained that persons under arrest do not have access to non-barbed bathrooms in police stations, and must instead use buckets in the station’s cells on the ground floor.

El-Nadeem Center’s report says Salah was detained by two soldiers who rode in his vehicle and refused to pay their fare. “He was later led to the police station and assaulted, and tortured in the head investigator’s room…and thrown from the third floor of the police station’s building,” reads the report.

The victim was transferred to el-Mansoura International Hospital, a private hospital. The hospital’s preliminary reports stated that Salah suffered internal bleeding and a brain concussion, in addition to fractures in his knee, leg, pelvis, arm and skull.

Members of Salah’s family believe that he was mistreated in the police station, and possibly tried to flee from the station’s window. “Definitely my cousin was forced into the station aggressively, as he said during the hospital security investigations,” Nabil Mohamed, the victim’s cousin, told Al-Masry Al-Youm over the phone.

Mohamed added that Salah had been stopped at a police checkpoint for carrying two wanted drug dealers in his tuk-tuk. After the drug dealers were taken away Salah drove the policemen to the Beni Abed Station. “He [Salah] became scared from the procedures of the interrogations [with the drug dealers], so he asked to use the bathroom and he tried to escape out of the window, climbing on water pipes,” Mohamed said, quoting his cousin’s statement during the latest hospital investigation.

Suzan Fayyad, a psychiatrist from the el-Nadeem Center who visited Salah in the hospital, said Salah and his family are under heavy police pressure which may distort their testimony.

“There are police personnel in civilian outfits all over the place even in his hospital room. […He] has not been officially arrested, there are no cuffs on his hands, and that makes the heavy presence of the police questionable,” she said.

Salah, who didn’t utter any word in the presence of the psychiatrist except, “take me out of here…I want to sleep,” is suffering an “acute stress reaction,” according to Fayyad.

During his first day in hospital, Salah was kept for long hours in investigations despite his injuries, according to the psychiatrist. Investigations were repeated as Salah was made to respond to three different security reports.

Salah’s case comes in the wake of hype around another alleged police torture incident that led to the death of Khaled Saeed, an Alexandria resident. The case stirred a wave of public unrest that was expressed in several protest actions.

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