Engineer Akram Zoheiri…

A new murder crime in the file of the Egyptian Ministry of Interior

About 10 years after the death of lawyer Abdel Hareth Madani in May 1994, and about six months after the death of Mosaad Kotb in November 2003, today Akram Zoheiri is killed by the same hands that killed Abdel Hareth and Mosaad and others, and tortured thousands of Egyptians in the cells and offices of the State Security Intelligence.

Since 1994 we have been waiting for the forensic report explaining the death of Abdel Hareth Madani, We did not need the report in 1994 and we shall not wait for it in 2004, to identify the hands that killed those men. Evidence of torture, cigarette burns, electric shocks and bruises of beatings and suspension and the sexual harrassment of men and women in police custody do not await evidence any more.

Akram Zoheiri was killed by the Ministry of Interior and before him Mosaad Kotb and Abdel Hareth Madani. In the meantime many others were killed under torture, either directly or as a result of it. The irony does not stop at those murder crimes but extends to the investigations that follow. The investigator is the prosecutor and judge, who usually rules that there is no criminal evidence or that those citizens were killed by mistake. Whose mistake? Is it the mistake of the Ministry of Interior, which connected the bodies of those citizens to electric wires, pressed burned cigarettes into their bodies or indiscriminately beat them with whatever is within reach? Or is it the mistake of the citizen who could not tolerate all that and hence died because his or her body was unable to endure?

Torture leads to death in many instances. In itself it is a deliberate crime, whether or not it leads to death, intended to break the spirit of the victim and those surrounding him or her. Those people are not tortured by mistake. It is therefore that the death that follows is in many cases a deliberate crime of murder.

The murder of Akram Zoheiri provides news evidence that the government and its police apparatus does not know a limit in its oppression, and that its security forces have, without limits, transgressed and violated all international conventions signed by the government, and its own constitution and laws, including the emergency law.

It is new evidence, provided by the regime itself, that it is not capable of reform, that it does not seeks reform and that its rhetoric about democracy, dialogue, the rights of citizens to the rest of all the terminology of the era of “New Thought” is nothing but cheap cosmetics, that nobody believes any more and that targets the blessing of the international community and the US, while in reality it only underlines the ugliness of its oppression.

We the undersigned have had enough. We have had enough of sacrificing the bodies and souls of men and women of our country, who, it seems, have to suffer every day to provide one evidence after the other of the brutality of a regime that is not “reformable”.

We never accepted torture. Its wide spread will only strengthen our commitment to expose it and expose those who practice it, their supervisors who give them the orders to torture, those who provide them with protection and those who are protected by it.

Akram Zoheiri is not the first martyr of the Ministry of interior. However, we should do our very best to make him the last. What is happening in Egyptian police and state security intelligence stations is not different from what happened in Abou Gharib prison. The geography might be different, the nationality of the torturers might be different, but torture remains the same: a crime against humanity, against life.

One of the women in Helwan who has tasted the bitter taste of torture and humiliation by the hands of the Egyptian police has put it very simply: there is no space for reconciliation or negotiation. It is either they or we.

Akram Zoheir has martyred and there are tens like him who may meet the same destiny. We should work together to persecute crimes of torture and their perpetrators. Today, we warn the Egyptian Ministry of Interior and draw the attention of the Egyptian public in general and its human rights and humanitarian organizations, its political parties and its committees defending freedoms and democracy that there is no space for compromising the lives of citizens in exchange for what some might believe to be indicators of reform. There can be no reform with torture.. no reform with the persistence of the state security intelligence apparatus.. no reform with the impunity enjoyed by police officers.

We the undersigned

– Call for the immediate release of all detainees

– Draw your attention that seven other detainees in state security case no. 462/2004are still in detention in the state security intelligence headquarters in Madinet Nasr. They are subjected to brutal torture inclusive of electricity, tying of their hands for long hours behind their backs, blindfolding, verbal abuse and humiliation. They run the risk of meeting the same fate of Akram Zoheiri.

– We call on the appointment of a magistrate to continue investigations with the rest of the detainees. It is not accepted that the investigation be carried out by the prosecution joining the roles of the prosecution and investigation in one.

– Last but not least we call for an immediate investigation in the murder of Akram Zoheiri in the presence of his lawyers who should attend each and every step of the investigation including the examination of his corpse. We demand that those accused of his murder be suspended from their work until the investigations are complete and they are judged by a public trial.

On the 26th of June we shall rally in protest in front of the office of the Prosecutor Genral. We shall carry the pictures of those killed under torture. We shall tell their stories and will hold the Ministry of Interior responsible for its crimes and murders. We shall also hold the general prosecution accountable for closing one file of torture after the other, freezing one complaint of torture after another in what appears to be a flagrant alliance with the perpetrators against their victims.

Let us join hands and efforts against Torture.. against the torturers of the Ministry of Interior.. against the complicity of the prosecution

Let us join hands and efforts for a society that provides no impunity to criminals.. a society where people are not detained because of their beliefs or political differences.. a democratic society, with no torture.. with no state security intelligence.

El Nadim Center for Psychological management and Rehabilitation

Hisham Mubarak Law Center
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information
The Egyptian Association against Torture
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
Cairo 10th of June 2004