Egypt: Enforced Disappearance, Detention for a Year, Life Sentence for a civilian

Egypt: Enforced Disappearance, Detention for a Year, Life Sentence for a civilian

After 15 days of enforced disappearance and a year in prison, Omar Mohamed received a verdict of life time sentence in Egypt.

Esraa El-Taweel, one of Omar’s friends, said that she accompanied Omar in an outing at a restaurant in Zamalek in June 1, 2015. They were planning to visit Omar’s doctor as he wanted to schedule an appointment for an operation on his face because he had been in car accident the previous year. They were later joined by Sohaib Saad who wanted to meet them who suggested going to Konblat al-Karnak (Karank bomb), an ice cream parlor at al-Sayyida Zaynab.

While the three were going out of the restaurant, they were stopped by three men who asked about their IDs and cell phones. “Two of them held off Omar and Sohaib so they would not leave,“ said Esraa. She added that the other man took her ID and cell phone and they were told to get into a police white microbus. Egypt

According to Esraa El-Taweel, “Inside the microbus the officer called someone on the phone and said: Congratulations, we arrested him and two others. One is called Esraa Mahfouz and the other is called Omar Mohamed, shall I bring them?” Esraa asked the officer many times to call her dad to tell him that she was in a trouble, but he refused. Egypt

She asked him about his identity, and he told her that he is a police officer and asked her to remain quiet. Esraa asked the officer if someone has reported them, because he heard the word “bomb” in the restaurant and she told him, “This is Karank Bomb, a juice and ice cream shop in al-Sayyeda Zeinab,” but the police officer told her to shut up. Then, they stopped and parked in a place near Kasr al-Nile St. and he went out to make a phone call. When Esraa looked behind she found Omar and Sohaib blindfolded. The police officer returned to the microbus and he blindfolded Esraa, too. Esraa said, “Ten minutes later the microbus had stopped and I figured out that we were in Lazougly, because it was very close and later I was sure I was right from the interrogations.”

During 15 days of enforced disappearance, Esraa el-Taweel was investigated for three times, and she was insulted, because she knew Sohaib, but no one asked her about Omar, except when they wanted to know how and when I knew him. Esraa said that she knew Omar 4 months before their abduction, and she said that after her injury (by a bullet wound at a protest), she lost interest because of her health conditions.

She also said that the only thing Omar was interested in was playing electronic games. On the fourth day in Lazoghly, Esraa was crying when a police officer spoke to her and told her not to cry, saying, “We know you had nothing to do with all of it and Omar too; both of you will be released.” However, after 15 days of enforced disappearance, she appeared in the State Security Prosecution for charges of spreading false news and belonging to a banned group. At that time, Esraa knew that Omar appeared in the Military Prosecution and that he was included in the same military case of Sohaib, “174 Military-West”. Esraa then said that she was the one who introduced Sohaib to Omar only two months before they were kidnapped and he used to hang out with Sohaib most of the time in the presence of Esraa to have fun. Egypt

Omar was an honor graduate from a military secondary school in 2009, and he was appointed as an AutoCAD designer in a military factory and he was studying architecture. Esraa narrated that two days after enforced disappearance, Omar was transferred from Lazougly, a National Security headquarters, to the military intelligence headquarters. He was asked about things he did not know or understand. “While exposed to torture, he was asked what the number of his group was. Thinking that they were asking about where he lived in 15th May city, so he said 8.” Esraa added, “They hit him and told him that a cell only consisted of 3 groups so ‘how come you say 8?!’ ”

They continued to interrogate him until they realized that he had no idea what they were talking about, “but they stripped him and electrocuted him in sensitive areas in his body,” said Esraa. For three months, he couldn’t move or control his hands because he was hung, which was registered during the Prosecution investigations. Egypt

An officer in the military intelligence told him that he was going to release him soon, but because of the way he looked (he means the torture marks), he would wait. He also told him that he would be released either by the prosecution or in the court. He also said to him, “You are here because of your stomach; you should have had dinner at home. Your problem is that you came here among criminals. Esraa added that the head of the military prosecution told Omar that he knew that he was innocent and try to get out and save yourself. His remand was renewed for two times (each time for 45 days), and Omar wasn’t released. In September 2015, the case was referred to the military court. “Omar was giving himself hopes that he would be acquitted by the court as he was told, because they knew he was innocent,” said Esraa. A year later, Omar was waiting for the court verdict, hoping that he would be set free, but the military court on May 29, 2016 sentenced him to 25 years in prison. Egypt

Since the military coup in 2013, the Egyptian regime led by al-Sisi launched a massive attack against political opposition. Both the civilian and the military courts were the main arms for suppressing the regime’s opponents. According to Human Rights Watch, the military courts have tried at least 7,420 Egyptian civilians since October 2014, when Abdel Fattah al-Sisi decreed a major law that expanded military court jurisdiction.

Nadim Houry, HRW’s deputy director for Middle East and North Africa, said, “Apparently unsatisfied with tens of thousands already detained and speedy mass trials that discarded due process in the name of national security, al-Sisi essentially gave free rein to military prosecutors,” He added, “He has handed back to the military judiciary the powerful role it enjoyed in the months after Egypt’s uprising, when the nation was governed by a council of generals.” Egypt