Egypt: Trial of officer accused of beating mentally disabled man starts Sunday
|Friday, September 4,2009 17:55|
The trial of a police officer accused by local Egyptian human rights organizations of violently beating and torturing a mentally disabled man in Alexandria, is set to begin on Sunday, the Cairo-based Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture said in a press statement Monday.
The case was not initially publicized, but this week the Nadeem Center has pushed for the situation to be part of widespread activism in order to create a public opinion case against Colonel Akram Soliman, who is accused of violently attacking the man at an Alexandria police station.
In July 2008, Ragai Soultan was walking along the city’s promenade when police surrounded him, allegedly believing him to be a child. He was subsequently taken into custody and arrested. At the police station, lawyers say Soliman beat the man after Soultan told him “my brother will defend me.”
Soultan’s doctor, brother and legal guardian, Elhamy Soutlan, told reporters that police hit the man on the head with a wooden stick numerous times, causing heavy bleeding before he was transferred to a public hospital. Upon arriving at the hospital to be checked out, the brother was astounded by the site.
Part of Soultan’s skull broken, with blood gushing out, his left shoulder was also injured to the point that movement in the arm is now difficult, the brother and doctor said. Soultan’s head injuries have resulted in further damage to his mental facilities.
The doctor filed a report with the local attorney’s office in Alexandria, where he accused Soliman of assaulting his brother and causing further permanent disability. Soliman allegedly offered to contribute to the wounded man’s medical expenses in an effort to keep the incident from reaching the public, but was refused.
Soultan spent three days in the hospital recovering from his injuries.
The Nadeem Center is calling for Egyptian activists to attend Sunday’s first hearing as a show of solidarity with Soultan and to continue to put pressure on police in Egypt to end their violent activities toward those detained. On Facebook, dozens of activists have joined the call and are likely to take advantage of the Cairo human rights center’s offer to transport people to the court.
“This is the first time in 10 years that an officer with a high rank will be prosecuted in such a case,” Mohamed Abdel Aziz, a lawyer at the Nadeem Center on the case, told local newspaper Daily News Egypt.
Egypt has long struggled with police brutality in recent years. Activists and human rights advocates believe security forces have long used these intimidation tactics in order to force confessions and take advantage of their positions of power.