Egypt to investigate claim that police detainee was tortured

Egyptian police arrest a supporter of ousted President Mohamed Morsi during a protest in Cairo in November. Allegations of abuse in Egyptian jails are mounting.
(Mohamed Abdelwahab / AFP/Getty Images)

Egypt’s Interior Ministry will investigate the alleged torture of a detainee at a Cairo police station, local newspapers reported Tuesday amid growing accusations of abuse in Egyptian prisons and detention facilities.

The investigation was prompted by the circulation of a minute-long video that purports to show a tortured inmate lying on the floor of a police cell.

The grainy footage was apparently shot by inmates in a nearby cell, who are heard shouting for help. One of them says “the guy is dying” and calls the unresponsive police officers “infidels.”


The video has been widely shared on social media sites since it was posted Sunday, with many government critics claiming that the prisoner was severely beaten while in custody.

An unidentified security official quoted in local news reports said the case would be investigated without confirming or denying that a detainee was abused.

Accusations of torture and abuse reached a crescendo Sunday, when Egyptian newspapers reported the deaths of three inmates held at different police stations across the capital, Cairo.

A forensic report released Tuesday found that a 46-year-old man who died while in police custody in May had suffered from nine broken ribs, gashes, hemorrhaging and a concussion, among other injuries.

Local and international human rights organizations have bemoaned conditions in a number of jails in Egypt, with the London-based Amnesty International saying in a recent report that torture is “endemic.”

An Interior Ministry spokesman, Abdel Fattah Osman, told the ONTV satellite channel in May that claims of physical assault and rape in Egyptian detention facilities are “fabricated” and “have nothing to do with reality or logic.”


At least 16,000 people have been arrested in a crackdown since the army-led ouster of Egypt’s former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi amid nationwide protests against his rule last summer. While the majority of the detainees have been Islamist sympathizers, those said to have been tortured include many people who are not accused of political offenses.

Hassan is a special correspondent.