Egypt: A high school student dies in police station; police say his death was natural

A secondary school student has died while being held in the Montazah Police Station. While the Interior Ministry says: It’s natural death, a human rights organization says in a report that: the body had bruises and a fracture in  the left leg and ribs.

The Egyptian Ministry of Interior on Tuesday 2 August denied that the deceased young man, Mustafa Montaser Hamed Al-Baygrami, had been tortured while he was being held in the police station.

However, a statement by the Egyptian Network for Human Rights (ENHR) stated that when the family saw the dead body of their son at the hospital, they found bruises and injuries to the head and ear, adding that there were also fractures in the left leg and chest ribs.

The interior ministry said in the statement on its Facebook page, that Al-Bayrami was arrested on July 20 against the background of receiving information about his involvement in a drug-trafficking gang.

The statement indicated that Al-Baygrami and three others were brought before the Public Prosecution, which decided to imprison them pending investigations, after seizing quantities of narcotics in their possession.

The Interior Ministry said the deceased young man was “known for taking drugs,” adding that six days after his arrest, he fell ill and was transferred to Abu Qir General Hospital for treatment, but he died the next day, on July 27, where his death was described by the ministry ’s statement as “natural death”, based on witnesses from those that were detained with him, adding that the deceased was not subjected to any assaults, according to the statement.

On the other hand, a statement issued by the Egyptian Network for Human Rights, published on the same day, narrated another account of the death of the19-year-old student in the third grade of secondary school, while he was detained in the Montazah police station. The young man was arrested on July 18, while he and three friends were in using a Tuktuk owned by one of them. Then, the communication between the four young men and their families was cut off for hours after their mobile phones were turned off, which prompted the families to search for their children in hospitals and police stations, including the Montazah police station, which denied their presence in custody.

After searching for the young men for more than two days, the Kafr El-Dawwar Police station refused to issue a report about their absence for the youth’s families. On July 20, the family received a call from a lawyer informing them of the presence of the four in the Manshiya Prosecution Office in Alexandria, against the background of accusation of forming a gang for trafficking in narcotics.

The ENHR’s statement indicates that what was mentioned in the report ignores the fact that they were arrested two days before the date recorded in the report, explaining that they were arrested at the 45th kilometer, and placed in the Al-Montazah Police Station. According to ENHR, after the families appointed a lawyer for their sons, they were presented to the prosecution again on July 21, to renew their remand for 15 days.

Mustafa’s family tried to visit him in prison on July 22 and July 25, but their attempts were unsuccessful, where the police station personnel only allowed delivering food and clothes to him, and enabled them to make a phone call with him.

After that, Mustafa’s family received a call from someone inside the police station, informing them of the death of their son, without explaining the reason. The family went to the hospital they were told to go to, to find out that he had been admitted twice, the first in the surgery department, and the second in the chest department.

After several attempts with the hospital officials, the family managed to see the dead body of their son. The body had bruises, head and ear injuries, and a broken left leg and chest ribs, according to the family. Later, he was transferred to the Kom El-Dikka mortuary. According to ENHR, the prosecutor ordered an autopsy of the body, pending the forensic report.

Also, the Shehab Center for Human Rights announced the death of the student Mustafa Montaser inside the Montazah Police Station in Alexandria, Egypt, on July 27, 2022, after he was detained for 9 days with others in the station. The Shehab Center for Human Rights holds the Ministry of Interior responsible for his  death and demands an investigation into its circumstances, as well as the release of all detainees.