Luxor protesters released as prosecution investigates death of detainee

A district prosecutor ordered the release of 24 protesters in the southern governorate of Luxor on Thursday after they were arrested during a protest outside the Awamiya Police Station, where detainee Talaat Shabeeb had died while in custody.

Others protested Shabeeb’s detention outside the Luxor Security Directorate.

According to the state-owned Middle East News Agency, protesters had been tear-gassed and forcefully dispersed before the arrests took place on Wednesday.

Shabeeb’s friends and relatives claim that he was tortured to death at the hands of police, who had arrested him from a coffee shop in Awamiya on Tuesday.

A widely circulated video depicts a dead body at a morgue – reportedly that of Shabeeb – with severe bruising visible around his neck.

The Interior Ministry has ordered that 47-year-old Shabeeb’s body undergo an autopsy by the public coroner in order to determine the exact cause of death.

Deputy Minister of Interior Abu Bakr Abdel Karim told media outlets on Wednesday night that the case has been referred to the general prosecutor for further investigations.

Abdel Karim argued that at the time of his arrest, Shabeeb was wanted on criminal charges. However, the general added that no wrongdoing should have been committed against him while in detention. Abdel Karim went on to state that torture is not justifiable and is not tolerated by the ministry.

Prosecutors will rely on the public coroner’s autopsy results in their investigations, the police general concluded. 

According the medical report filed by the Luxor International Hospital, Shabeeb was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. The report said police transferred his dead body to the hospital at 1:15 am on Wednesday.

Shabeeb’s death sparked public outrage in Luxor.

The April 6th Youth Movement issued a statement on Wednesday “condemning all acts of violence, torture, and extrajudicial killings carried out by the regime’s security forces.”

Their statement lambasted “the continuation of the Interior Ministry’s blatant violations,” adding that police abuses “are even worse now than they were before the start of the January [2011] revolution, and this bears dangerous ramifications for everyone.”

In May of this year, the state-appointed National Council for Human Rights issued its annual report, in which claimed that “the right to life has witnessed a horrid deterioration” since 2013.

Citing the documentation of Egyptian rights organizations, Human Rights Watch reported that there have been at least 124 deaths in custody since August 2013 due to medical neglect, abuse and torture.


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