Mubarak Government Tortures, Abuses Opponents: Amnesty Group
LONDON (AP) _ President Hosni Mubarak’s government has engaged in a persistent pattern of torture, whipping, sexually abusing and hanging political prisoners by their wrists, Amnesty International charged today.
Evidence of torture comes from interviews with victims detained from 1986 to 1988 and more than 100 medical reports by the Egyptian Justice Ministry’s forensic medicine department, a spokeswoman for the human rights group said.
At least 3,000 political opponents, many of them members of Islamic groups, have been arrested arbitrarily under state of emergency laws since 1986, Amnesty spokeswoman Carline Windall said. Many were held incommunicado for weeks or months before being formally charged, she said.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry today denied that the country has any political prisoners and said it was ″absolutely untrue that there is torture of any kind.″
The ministry in a statement said, ″Government prosecutors and the courts are in charge of detainees and investigate any complaints the detainees have. ... Until now, there has been no proof that any torture exists.″
The London-based group said in its 40-page report, ″The torture testimony has been consistent and prompts the conclusion that there is a pattern of torture in Egypt and that there are insufficient safeguards to protect detainees from torture.″
Emergency laws allow virtually indefinite detention without charge. Egypt has been under an almost continuous state of emergency since 1967.
Mubarak came to power on Oct. 6, 1981 after Moslem fundamentalists assassinated President Anwar Sadat.
Amnesty’s report said torture usually occurs during the first days of detention. It cited the case of a 22-year-old student, Mahmoud Agami Mehelhil, who was arrested in February 1987, held incommunicado for 37 days, and allegedly stripped, blindfolded and whipped all over his body.
The report says Mehelhil still bears the physical marks of torture and believes he was released from Mazra’at Tora Prison south of Cairo without trial so that the court would not see his injuries.
The document also cites reports by Moslem activists of beatings with cables and whips, burnings with cigarettes, and other forms of torture.
It said many torture victims were among the thousands of political suspects arrested after the attempted assassinations in May and August 1987 of former Interior Ministers Maj. Gen. Hassan Abu Basha and Maj. Gen. Nabawi Ismail and of magazine editor Makram Muhammed Ahmed.
The report said at least 1,500 Moslems were detained across the country after a demonstration in a mosque in the southern city of Fayoum on April 7.
Fundamentalist Moslems are demanding enactment of Sharia, Islam’s legal and social code with harsh criminal penalties like limb amputation and flogging.
The government contends 90 percent of Egyptian laws already conform to Sharia, but they do not include the Islamic code’s corporal punishments.
Amnesty’s report called on the Egyptian government to provide political detainees access to lawyers, relatives and doctors.
Egypt was among the first six countries in 1986 to sign a U.N. convention against torture.