Police may have illegally killed nine Muslim Brotherhood supporters during a raid on July 1, 2015, reported the New York-based Human Rights Watch on Friday.
HRW investigated the case by talking to 11 relatives and witnesses of the incident, who stated that the police first arrested, then tortured and killed, the nine men during the raid.
The Interior Ministry released a statement following the incident saying that the nine men opened fire on security forces from behind a closed apartment door and were killed in the subsequent exchange of fire.
However, the Interior Ministry claimed via their official Facebook post earlier in the day that the police arrested nine Muslim Brotherhood members. Later that day, through another Facebook statement, the Interior Ministry said that the men inside of the apartment used automatic weapons to attack the security forces and were killed in when the security forces returned their fire.
The HRW report quoted the deputy Middle East director of HRW Joe Stork saying, “If these wee extrajudicial executions, it would signal a new level of lawlessness on the part of Egyptian security forces. As more information emerges, it is clear that the authorities have a lot of explaining to do as to how and why their forces killed nine men on July 1.”
The HRW report encouraged Egypt to open an investigation run by independent prosecutors into the case and “hold accountable any members of the security forces found to have committed any unlawful killings or to have been otherwise responsible for them.”
Mada Masr previously published an investigation into the nine men’s deaths, revealing conflicting accounts of what occurred during the raid on July 1. Neighbors told Mada Masr that they heard a short round of gunfire that ended by 9:30 am and other neighbors told the privately owned Al-Watan that they had not heard gunfire at all that morning.
Relatives of the victims who spoke to HRW stated that when they went to identify the dead men in the morgue, they saw signs of torture, including stab wounds, marks from electric shocks and broken bones. Four of the men had been shot in the head, according to these relatives.
The HRW investigation stated that State Security Prosecution is investigating the raid, which it also reportedly ordered.
Since former President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in July 2013, security forces have arrested thousands of alleged Muslim Brotherhood members. The Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed and designated a terrorist group following by a Cabinet decree issued on December 25, 2013.