Human Right Watch witness jailed in Egypt

The source said the witness was charged with joining an illegal movement, staging an unlicensed protest, blocking a road and rioting.

Human Right Watch witness jailed in Egypt

World Bulletin / News Desk

The authorities on Sunday ordered the imprisonment for 15 days of an eyewitness whose account was cited in a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on last year's dispersal of eastern Cairo's Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in pending his interrogation on charges of staging an unlicensed protest, a legal source said.

The source, who asked not to be named, added that Mohamed Tarek was charged with joining an "illegal movement", namely the Muslim Brotherhood, from which ousted president Mohamed Morsi hails, staging an unlicensed protest, blocking a road and rioting.

"He is not, however, interrogated on his testimony that was cited in the Human Rights Watch report," the source told Anadolu Agency.

Tarek was arrested late on Friday in the northern coastal city of Alexandria, but a security official said his arrest had nothing to do with the HRW report.

"Mohamed Tarek is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood movement," Sherif Abdel-Hamid, the head of the Criminal Investigation Department at the Alexandria security directorate, said in a statement on Saturday.

"He was arrested late on Friday as he participated in a protest," he added, noting that some anti-army and anti-police publications were found in Tarek's possession at the time of his arrest.

Abdel-Hamid also refuted claims that Tarek was arrested during a raid on his home in the coastal northern province of Alexandria.

An acquaintance of Tarek said earlier that the activist had been arrested late on Friday by security authorities in Alexandria and that he was interrogated by the prosecution on Saturday.

Tareq, a lecturer at the School of Sciences at Alexandria University, was arrested at his house in a raid that also saw his laptop seized, the acquaintance said, noting that Tareq was one of the protesters who joined the Rabaa sit-in until its dispersal on August 14 of last year.

Several friends of Tareq have confirmed the news of his arrest of his Facebook account, with cyber-activists launching an online campaign calling for his release.

Earlier this month, HRW, a prominent New York-based watchdog, called for a U.N. inquiry into what it described as the "massacre" by Egyptian security forces of at least 1150 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi – including at least 817 in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adiwiya Square alone – saying the killings likely constituted crimes against humanity.

Hundreds of pro-Morsi demonstrators were killed when security forces violently cleared their protest camps in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square and Giza's Nahda Square on August 14 of last year, only weeks after the military ousted Morsi, Egypt's first elected civilian president.

The Egyptian government has dismissed the HRW report as "politicized" and "biased." Cairo also reiterated that the use of force by security personnel had come in response to violence – including the use of firearms – by protesters.

In his account, Tareq said that security forces were “arbitrarily shooting all around” during the violent dispersal. He himself was hit by three bullets, one in his arm, one that went into his back and through his chest, and a third that struck him in the side, he said.

Tareq went on to say that he was one of hundreds of demonstrators who were unable to receive necessary medical attention for hours at the field hospital in the square "as doctors struggled to deal with the influx of injured protesters after the dispersal began."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Eylül 2014, 10:52